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> Outlanders (Morrowind Crossover)
Acadian
post Nov 24 2022, 12:55 AM
Post #261


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What a hoot this episode was! From Lli’s outlandish (but clever) plan, to Quinn and Fern’s discussion about the benefits of mud, to the J-boys clamoring to be Quinn’s best-dressed champion. I look forward to hearing about the Fashion Club Arena Raiment!

Uh oh, the Wicked Witch of Balmora has plans of her own to undermine the Fashion Club. I have to admit that Synda is pretty good at plotting things out – especially devious mean things.


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WellTemperedClavier
post Nov 27 2022, 05:34 PM
Post #262


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@SubRosa - Yup! The episode title was a hint.

Earlier, I'd actually planned to follow the "Fair Enough" episode more closely, and have it be a Renaissance Fair inspired by the pop culture version of the Interregnum. But I decided that felt too contrived and figured the old Tamrielic arena was a better idea.

Dang, now I wish I'd had the staff participate. Though Dimartani did use to work for Great House Redoran, so it might be pretty unbalanced if he joined the fray.

@Acadian - Thanks! This episode jumps around through a lot of POVs, which made it fun to write.

Synda's better at plotting than her show counterpart. Though she ought to remember that she's still a pretty small fry, all things considered.

Episode 16: Arena

Chapter 3


Briltasi hated having to wear a big ugly robe and hood every time she snuck out to see Kavon. But it had to be done, because Kavon’s family wasn’t respectable and Briltasi’s was. It’d make dad mad to find out she’d been seeing a lowborn guy, even one as cute as Kavon. But it’d make her mad to stop doing it. So obviously, she just had to make sure no one found out.

The skies had cleared and the view from Kavon’s guard tower let them see all of Balmora. Sometimes she’d look out and imagine the spires of the Imperial City or someplace more romantic, but one thing she knew was that, wherever you were, it always felt good to be above it all.

“Hey, Kavvy?” she said, looking out the window.

Kavon, shirtless, took a draught from the mazte bottle she’d brought for him. “Yeah, babe?”

“So, you know that school I go to?”

“Uh… school?”

Briltasi pouted. Kavon was sweet, but he was so dumb. “Yeah, Drenlyn Academy! They’re holding an arena to get more funds. The students are going to fight each other and people are going to bet on them.”

“Cool!”

“I found out some of the girls are picking champions.” Briltasi turned to look at Kavon and her heart skipped. Oh, he was so cute.

“Cool.”

“I could use a handsome champion. I wonder where I’d find one?” She pouted at him.

Kavon scowled. “Huh? Hey, you can’t pick someone else! I’m your guy!”

Briltasi sighed. Why did she have to explain everything to him? “I’m talking about you, dummy!”

“Oh! Okay, cool. But I’m not a student.”

"Wear your helmet. That way no one will know. It’ll be like a big mystery, and everyone will wonder who my mystery knight is! And you’re a big tough guard, so you’ll definitely win!”

“Yeah!” He reached under his bunk and took out a steel longsword and held it aloft. “Man, I’ve been waiting to use this on someone!”

“Wait, Kavvy! Not a real weapon, this is for a school arena!”

He blinked, and tilted his head like a confused baby guar. “Huh?”

Briltasi sighed. This was going to take a while.



*********



Synda kept her face perfectly still as Rovern Draalo stepped up for inspection. He was the middle son of the Draalos, a respectable family with investments in mainland corkbulb farms.

“I am honored by your request, Sera Grilvayn,” he said.

Rovern had the build of a mighty warrior and a brain like a brick. In other words, ideal for Synda’s needs.

“Grilvayn has long respected Draalo,” Synda said. “My mother extends congratulations to your father for investing in corkbulbs. This will surely be of benefit to him, the company, and Great House Hlaalu.”

“Uh,” Rovern trailed off for a second, his eyes searching. The fool probably hadn’t the faintest idea about investments. “Yes.” He straightened up. “It is to the honor of Great House Hlaalu.”

“Very good. As you know, Drenlyn Academy will be holding an arena competition. As the head of the Haute Society, a society dedicated to ensuring that Dunmer present themselves in a manner appropriate for our era, I would like to choose you as, like, our champion.”

Rovern swallowed. “Uh, yes. Thank you, Sera Grilvayn. What do you want me to do?”

Synda hid her annoyance. “I want you to fight for me in the arena. Your wardrobe will be important, so dress well. Pick something you might wear to the retirement ceremony for a reputable administrator. As for the battle itself, your physique renders you a formidable combatant, so I doubt you will face much serious opposition. Specifically, I want you to defeat the Bosmer, Jeval Whitethorn.”

“Why him? With respect, Sera Grilvayn, I’m not sure that’d be a fair match. I’m a lot bigger than he is.”

“Arenas are about victory! Not being fair.”

Rovern gulped. “If you say so, sera.”

“The Leldros,” she said, pointing to Nedrasa, who bowed her head at the acknowledgement, “have long been friends with the Ardrel family. Should you defeat Jeval, I will direct Nedrasa to ask the Ardrels to invite your family to Muthsera Rovone Ardrel’s birthday celebration in a few months’ time. Given your father’s business, this could be a lucrative opportunity for him.”

“Understood, Sera Grilvayn.” He scowled. “I’ll defeat Jeval.”

“I certainly wouldn’t complain if you hurt that upstart outlander as much as the rules allow.”

He frowned. “Well, my father says that outlanders can be our friends, and—”

Synda rolled her eyes and made a dismissive gesture. “Like, whatever! Just win!”



*********



Loredas morning dawned bright, cold, and clear. Hours after a breakfast of saltrice porridge and scrib jerky, Daria found herself in the place she least wanted to be: Drenlyn Academy.

“It’s important for you to put your best foot forward,” mom had said the last night. “Besides, your sister has a champion, and that means the entire family has one.”

Daria had rolled her eyes. “If by champion you mean a living dress-up doll.”

“I applaud Quinn’s ambition. It’s something you could stand to show more of.”

The arena covered most of the courtyard and looked as cheap as she’d expected. Small black stones marked the boundary and two sets of crude bleachers had been set up with stacked crates. Merchant stalls and showmen crowded up whatever space was left over.

“Truly a rival to the great arena of the Imperial City,” Daria remarked.

Jane sat in the shade of the emperor parasol, a sketchpad and a piece of charcoal in her blackened hands. Daria hurried over to find refuge from her family.

“Any takers?” she asked.

“Not yet. I have the feeling this might not be the best crowd for fine art.”

Nearby, a shirtless Nord spread his arms wide and burp-sang an epic’s opening lines to the cheers of a bunch of young Drenlyn men.

“On the other hand, if you wanted someone to belch out the Lays of Ysgramor, this is the place,” Daria said.

“Well, I know when I’m beat. But hey, it’ll be fun to watch them fight each other. What brought you here, anyway?” Jane asked.

“My sister picked a champion, so all us Morgendorffers have to go out in a show of support.”

Jane pressed her charcoal against the paper, her brow furrowing. “She started quite the trend with that.”

“Maybe her next trend could be vows of silence. If that gets popular enough, I won’t even need a new library.”

“This champion thing is popular though. Synda picked one too, for that creepy Haute Society of hers.”

Synda. Hearing the name felt like a blow to the face. “Wait, what?”

Jane looked up from her pad. “They got Rovern as their champion. You know him, right? Big for a Dunmer, polite but dumb?”

I’m going to faint, Daria thought. No, not here. She had to stay calm. She was okay, she was safe. Synda didn't dare hurt her here.

“Daria?”

“I’m fine.”

Except she wasn’t. She was shaking and sweating and using every ounce of her diminishing willpower to keep from fleeing. Because if Synda lost, she might well take it out on Quinn, just the way she’d hired those Camonna Tong thugs to brutalize Daria a year ago.

“Uh, I think my mom’s calling me,” Daria said, her tongue as dry as the Alik'r, and she hurried back to her family.



*********



Jane watched her friend hurry back to the crowd.

“Since when does Daria ever listen to her mom?” she said, to no one in particular.

Musical Outro - Geek Stink Breath, by Green Day

Robert (Rovern Draalo) - Robert's a jock that appears a handful of times in the show. He's notable mostly for being quite polite.
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Acadian
post Nov 27 2022, 09:19 PM
Post #263


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The ladies of Drenlyn are lining up their champions. Looks like we have Kavon, Rovern and Jeval.

’He blinked, and tilted his head like a confused baby guar. “Huh?”
- - Sounds like this ^ pretty well describes Kavon. laugh.gif

The presence of Synda has quite a profound impact on Daria. I was touched to realize that a notable measure of her apprehension is for Quinn should Synda’s champion fail to emerge victorious.


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Renee
post Nov 29 2022, 02:34 PM
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"Student disinterest!" laugh.gif Pretty soon it'll be like the Fallout universe, in which most books are burned-up trash!

So I can see some of the boys in this story getting involved in this arena. I can see the Three Js, for instance. Ha. Speaking of...

Still though, the 'non-lethal' element makes me think of this gigantic real-life DnD-like "campaign" me and my friends did a couple times in high school. We'd show up wearing foam "amor", wielding weapons made of PVC tubes, styrofoam and duct tape. laugh.gif I forget the name of the event. It had a specific name. ⚔

But the idea wasn't that we'd beat each other with these makeshift weapons, in fact it was encouraged to merely "tap" each other, just to keep any possible injuries to a mimimum. If you had a black weapon, this was 1-touch lethal. indifferent.gif And because of this I have this memory of some swordsman with a duct-tape sword painted black running up to me, touching my shoulder with his weapon, and then him yelling at me "I TOUCHED YOU!! I TOUCHED YOU! YOU'RE DEAD!!!: laugh.gif Now you can see why we only went to two of these campaigns.

Uh oh, Quinn is scheming. What's she up to now? Probably going to put a selected combatant in color-coordinated gear. bigsmile.gif

QUOTE
Speak for yourself,” Treads-on-Ferns said. “Mud’s nice after a dry day.”


YEah, take that, Quinny!

Oh my gosh, this is too funny. She's actually trying to recuit somebody already. OH my gosh, Jonus is crying! ... They're all grovelling for her attention. What has this Quinn got that's so damn special? 🙋

Okay so Bril is picking somebody who goes to a different school, right? And so is Sydna. Crazy. I love how these ladies are weaseling their way into stuff that has nothing to do with combat, nothing to do with Magistrate Lli's idea to further funds for the broken library. Difference with Sydna is, she's not picking the stuff her subject will wear. But she'll maybe approve of what he'll wear.

Yikes, so what exactly did Sydna do to Daria? Maybe this was mentioned in a past chapter, but I don't remember.

This post has been edited by Renee: Nov 29 2022, 02:41 PM
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WellTemperedClavier
post Nov 30 2022, 05:49 PM
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@Acadian - Synda's one of the very few things that scares Daria. She's used to dealing with common corruption and meanness (and isn't necessarily averse to either of those herself), but Synda was the first to use violence against her. This fear is also why she's being so slow in figuring out that there's no way Synda could have actually been working with the real Camonna Tong.

@Renee -
QUOTE(Renee @ Nov 29 2022, 02:34 PM) *

"Student disinterest!" laugh.gif Pretty soon it'll be like the Fallout universe, in which most books are burned-up trash!


Well, Red Year isn't that far off...

Oh wow, that LARP thing you did sounds a lot of fun! Except for the major imbalance with the black-colored weapons. That's definitely something that needed to be nerfed, as they say.

The Three Js were like this in the show, as well (in fact they were worse, because none of them ever got better). I always wondered why. At a certain point, it seemed more like they were doing it out of habit than anything else.

Kavon actually doesn't go to school at all. He's a full-time city guard. But apparently not so full-time that he can't make an excuse to go do something like this. His managers probably know better than to expect much from him.

QUOTE(Renee @ Nov 29 2022, 02:34 PM) *

Yikes, so what exactly did Sydna do to Daria? Maybe this was mentioned in a past chapter, but I don't remember.


This was from the first episode, where Synda hired thugs to beat Daria. Synda had claimed that the thugs were Camonna Tong, but this was just something she said to scare Daria. In reality, the thugs were just petty criminals not affiliated to any bigger organization.

And this will be a pretty major plot point in Episode 18...

Episode 16: Arena

Chapter 4


Briltasi never liked seeing Kavon in his helmet. It was big, yellow, and made him look like an enormous bug. The only nice part was when he took it off and she’d see his face, and then the wind ruffled his hair…

She shook her head. Time to focus!

“Now remember, Kavvy,” she said, as she walked with him to Jolda’s sign-up desk. “You aren’t Kavon today!”

“Uh, I’m not?” he asked, his voice muffled by the bonemold.

“You’re my mystery knight!”

“Okay, but what if someone asks my name?”

“Say that you’ve sworn yourself to secrecy for your lady love! Try to make it sound like you’re a noble knight.”

“Sworn myself to secrecy for my babe,” he said. “Got it.”

“For my lady love! You have to be romantic for this because knights are romantic.”

“But I’m not a knight!” he protested. “I’m a guard.”

“Right, but you’re a knight for today.”

“Does this mean I get a pay raise?”

Briltasi took Kavon’s hand and pulled him forward. Jolda sat at the desk, the sign-up parchment weighed down by a couple of stones. Maiko, that soldier she pretended she wasn’t dating, stood next to her in his uniform.

“Hi, Briltasi,” Jolda said.

“Hi! Can we still sign people up for the arena?”

“Sure. We’re actually kind of low on contestants. Some of the people who said they were going to show up didn’t.” Her eyes narrowed. “Who’s the guy in the helmet?”

This was the moment. Briltasi looked worshipfully up at the ugly helmet because there was a handsome face behind it that she knew about, but no one else did.

“This is my mystery knight! A gallant warrior so enraptured by my beauty that he’s pledged to fight and win in this arena so that he might one day have my hand in marriage.”

“Wait, you want to get married—” Kavon began.

“That’s very romantic,” Jolda said. “But the rules say we need to have a name on the sheet.”

“But it’s a mystery! If I tell everyone who it is that’ll spoil the drama!” Briltasi protested.

Jolda shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t make the rules, but I have to follow them. Plus, only students are allowed to participate.”

Stupid rules! They always ruined the fun. Bad enough that she wasn’t allowed to see Kavon just because he was lowborn. What was the point of being highborn if you couldn’t have fun?

“He is a student! He’s uh…”

What student looked like Kavon? Then it hit her: Rovern Draalo! He was huge.

“Rovern Draalo! Yeah, that’s right,” she said.

“You mean that Rovern over there?” Jolda said, pointing over to where the real Rovern talked to Synda.

“Eep! No, this is, uh, a different Rovern. Rovern!” she said to Kavon. “Why don’t we go somewhere else so you can tell me your real last name in private!”

Kavon stood and stared straight ahead like he hadn't heard anything.

“Rovern!”

“Huh? Babe, she said Rovern is that guy, over there!” Kavon pointed back to Rovern. “I’m Kav—"

Fuming, Briltasi grabbed Kavon’s hand and stormed off.

Kavon was lucky he was cute!



*********



Daria found Quinn with the rest of the Fashion Club in one of the pavilions, where they added the finishing touches to Jeval’s outfit. Jeval did look sharp. Instead of his usual baggy tunic and pants, he wore a tight dark blue netch leather jerkin over a long-sleeved black tunic, with sturdy hide boots over fitted gray trousers. Stylish, but also pragmatic.

Not that Daria would ever admit this out loud.

She took Quinn by the arm and pulled her outside.

“Huh? What’s going on, Daria?” she demanded. “I’m busy right now!”

“Remember that conversation we had about Synda a while back? How she’s dangerous?”

“Yeah, sort of.”

Daria tightened her grip on her sister’s arm. “Maybe now’s a good time to think back on that. She has a champion, too. And she might not take well to losing.”

Quinn jerked her arm free. “You are so paranoid, Daria! You know, our ancestors didn’t create an empire by running away every time they met a bully!”

“Largely because we were often the bully,” Daria said.

“Whatever. I don’t know why you’re so scared.”

Because Synda’s thugs beat me bloody into the ground. The words sizzled in her mouth, ready to be released, to finally let someone know what happened, to have them hold her and tell her she’d be safe and that she didn’t have anything to worry about, that it was okay she wanted to hide because she’d been hurt so badly, because she’d carried the secret for so long.

Synda stood nearby, her eyes on Daria. The threat echoed in her memory.

“Synda might have Camonna Tong connections,” Daria warned.

Quinn sighed. “We already went over this. Her family’s important but they’re a boring business family, like ours! Even if she was, it’s not like you can sic the Camonna Tong on someone just because they beat you in a contest. If it was like that, outlanders like us would never win anything. Daria, I hang out with Dunmer who actually know what’s going on here, so maybe I’m smarter than you in this! Now leave me alone because Jeval’s cufflink is missing a button and I need to fix that!”

She turned around and stormed back to her champion, body language changing mid-stride so that she went from angry and pent up to busy and attentive, as if nothing at all had happened.

Which, as far as Quinn was concerned, was true.

Daria cursed under her breath. Was she crazy? Half the time it was like the attack had never happened, like it was all a violent delusion exclusive to her and Synda. Quinn had a point, too. Would the Camonna Tong truly spend that much effort on someone like her? Or for someone like Synda?

The memory of pain was proof enough.

There had to be some way to disrupt the competition. Maybe she could sign up someone herself? But it looked like most of the viable Drenlyn attendees were already on the roster.

Not far off, Briltasi argued with a helmeted Dunmer in bonemold armor that left his belly button exposed. That had to be Kavon.

Maybe she could work with this.

Musical Outro - Debaser, by The Pixies
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Renee
post Nov 30 2022, 07:16 PM
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QUOTE
Oh wow, that LARP thing you did sounds a lot of fun! Except for the major imbalance with the black-colored weapons. That's definitely something that needed to be nerfed, as they say.


Yep, imbalance, what an appropriate word. And how do we correct imbalances in Elder Scrolls games? With a mod, of course! All I needed was to install a mod back in 1986 to correct this! Maybe I should've shown up to the field we ran around in with my "mod-added" Black Armor of Vigilance, which is impervious to black weapon attacks. tongue.gif And when the LARP captains began explaing the rules, I'd just say "But I installed my Black Armor of Vigilance mod, which is impervious to Black Weapon attacks!!! What... you guys don't know about mods, yet?"

Nyah nyah.

Whoa, so Kavon is a guard. indifferent.gif Yikesy. Probably there aren't any rules against non-students yet, eh? Edit: yes there are. So this is why she wants "Kavvy" to stay under his helmet.

Kavvy the Mystery Knight! laugh.gif She wants him to be romantic. Jeez, this is funny again. Either I'm laughing my 4$$ off during this story, or sobbing, right? Love this. Kavon is so dumb!

Jeval's outfit sounds appropriate, nothing too wild like I was imagining. I thought he was about to show up wearing pink armor accented with magenta, or something totally girly.

QUOTE
She turned around and stormed back to her champion, body language changing mid-stride so that she went from angry and pent up to busy and attentive, as if nothing at all had happened.


This right here is an important detail. Like a lot of mall princesses, Quinn's a mental chameleon. She can manipulate her mood the way some of us change dresses. Which begs the question: are the moods she's portraying deceptive in a way, and if so, how often are they deceptive?

Heh. I'm probably overthinking this. Still, that is a common thing I've seen amongst manipulative people, especially princesses who need to get their way. 🧑‍🎤

Uh oh, what's Daria up to next? By the way, thanks for explaining about Sydna and Daria. I'll go back and read that again.

This post has been edited by Renee: Nov 30 2022, 07:23 PM
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Acadian
post Dec 1 2022, 09:39 PM
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Yes, too bad Kavon is so lowborn lowbrained. To the point that I’m really questioning Britalsi’s judgment now. He is a hoot to read though. laugh.gif

It will be interesting to see how prophetic Daria’s warning to Quinn is. That is assuming that Synda’s champion doesn’t win. . . and right now, Rovern is looking pretty good for this contest. Wonder what Daria’s planning with Kavon? Maybe she could donate just a sliver of her ample brain to him? wink.gif


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Renee
post Dec 1 2022, 10:07 PM
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QUOTE(SubRosa @ Apr 17 2022, 01:32 AM) *

I quoted this because now that I know the characters really well, this is great to see middle-aged versions of them.
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SubRosa
post Dec 2 2022, 12:46 AM
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Oh boy, Kavon will be the mystery knight. Given that he's a football player fighters guild member, I would put good odds on him winning. Unless Jodi gets Mack to enter as well. He seems tougher, if not more focused (not to mention he has brain cells).

Rovern sounds like a bigger, thicker version of Kavon! laugh.gif Maybe a little nicer though. He at least did not pull out a real sword right off the bat. Sydna however, continues to be the low down dirty kwama forager that she always is.

Maybe Daria could get Trent to be her champion! laugh.gif Now that would be a sight. He would oversleep and show up six hours after the competition was over with.

Oh boy, Daria is having another panic attack from her PTSD. So great when that goes untreated... sad.gif

Ok, I remember Robert now. Good pick. He was always nice, and as boring as watching paint dry.


***

I love how you wove in Kavon's helmet being yellow, to fit in with his football helmet from the TV show. Even his flat abs are exposed! Perfect!

Oh boy, hijinks over the Mystery Knight's name! Clearly, Brittany did not think this out very far. What am I saying? *facepalm*

Well, at least the Fashion Club got the chance to do what they do best when they dressed up Jeval. Hopefully that snazzy outfit won't get ruined by all the blood that is sure to follow...

For once, Quinn actually does know better than Daria. That is scary. But then, that is what trauma does to people.


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WellTemperedClavier
post Dec 3 2022, 05:51 PM
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@Renee - Hmm, well when you mod your RL surroundings, I think it's called CHIM...

Or just showing initiative. Works either way.

Quinn's flighty and superficial, but she does actually know what she's talking about when it comes to fashion. Given that there probably aren't fashion magazines per se in Vvardenfell, I'm figuring that Quinn gets most of her ideas by watching what the more notable folks wear and building up on that.

And yeah, it's hard to know when Quinn's being genuine. She's played the role of mall princess (not sure what the Morrowind equivalent to that is--bazaar princess, maybe?) so long, that she's not really sure how to do anything else. There's a great episode in the series proper, "Monster" which delves into this a bit. I didn't explore it quite as much.

@Acadian - Briltasi isn't that smart. But she is smarter than Kavon, and she knows it.

Hm, I'm not sure Kavon would know what to do with the extra brainpower. It'd probably lead him into worse trouble.

@SubRosa - Maiko would definitely take Kavon out in a fight, no questions asked. The Hlaalu guards are only minimally trained. With his smarts, cool head, and Legion training, Maiko would wipe the floor with the guy.

Oh damn. Now I kind of wish I'd had Daria pick Trent as her champion. He'd definitely oversleep though.

Heh, I can't take too much credit for the color, since bonemold is already kind of yellow-ish. Just another way in which the two franchises seem weirdly made for each other.

I tried to treat Daria's trauma realistically as I could. It's still something that affects her, almost a year later.

Episode 16: Arena

Chapter 5


“Your attention please!” Magistrate Lli announced. Her thin, sharp voice barely broke over the noise of the crowd, so she banged her ceremonial staff on a nearby crate to draw their attention.

“Thank you! I’m pleased to announce the commencement of the first Drenlyn Arena Competition! On this bright morning, Drenlyn students will conduct simulated battle on academy grounds for your entertainment! Given that our Empire was founded on martial prowess, it’s only fitting that our young people practice the ways of blade and shield so that they will be ready to someday bring war to our enemies across the sea.

“The rules are simple: two students at a time will take to the field with helmets and padded swords. Each match is best two out of three rounds. A round lasts a maximum of three minutes, and goes until a combatant surrenders, or can no longer stand up under their own power. Don’t fret though, we have some temple healers on standby.

“We have a standard single elimination tourney bracket. The winner will be declared Champion of Drenlyn! This is a purely decorative title, but the winner can stand tall knowing that they've brought honor, and glory, to Drenlyn Academy. And to Great House Hlaalu, our beloved Emperor, and the gods we worship. With that said…”

She breathed in. “Let the games begin!”

Magistrate Lli stepped back and gestured with her hand. Karl the Unctuous, dressed in a bright yellow long coat with silver thread run through the lapels and cuffs, stepped up to the announcement dais.

“Are you ready for the thrill of combat?” he called out, raising a clenched fist. “To see blood spilled on the virgin sand of the Drenlyn Arena?”

Murmurs of assent from the crowd.

Karl cupped his right hand around his ear and tilted his head. “I can’t hear you!”

Louder that time.

“That was better, but still quiet.” He took on a disappointed mien. “Could it be that we’ve got some squeamish types here? Those who think that the arena is too violent for young minds? Oh, whatever will our Empire do if the hearts of its citizens flutter so timidly?” He raised a hand to his brow for emphasis.

“No!” the crowd roared.

He stood at attention. “On that case, are you ready for combat? And tell me like you mean it!”

“We’re ready!” they screamed, as one.

That’s more like it! Now, let’s give a round of applause to our first two contestants!”

Karl paused to let the new meat march into the pit as the audience clapped and cheered.

“On my right, we have Marcus Antabolis, of proud Cyrodiilic stock! His father’s a big name in the Fighters Guild, so we’ll see if he carries on the family tradition. On my left, Novryna Llerso, a native daughter of Balmora who’s ready to make her city proud…”



*********



This sucked!

Briltasi pouted at the edge of the arena as the fighting started. This was supposed to be her and Kavvy’s moment! But all those stupid rules kept getting in the way.

Sometimes she wished she lived in High Rock. None of the gallant knights in her stepmom’s novels ever had to deal with that kind of junk when they were off rescuing fair maidens or slaying dragons.

“Uh, are you mad at me, babe?” Kavon asked.

“I’m mad at them! I wanted you to win and I know you could have! And then you could carry me away from Drenlyn, and everyone would wonder who my masked mystery knight was, and then we’d make out somewhere and I’d be like one of the princesses I read about!”

“Aw,” Kavon sighed.

The loud thwack of a wooden sword slamming into someone’s head caught her attention. Marcus staggered back and fell into the arena dust.

“Novryna Llerso wins Round One! Now that’s what I call feisty! Next up…”

Briltasi watched as the next two fighters, both humans, took to the field. She sighed. That could have been Kavon getting wounded for her. Then she’d nurse him back to health like in that one book she read!

“What are you two doing here?”

It was Daria, her whole body kind of twitchy, like she was nervous or waiting for something bad to happen. Even weirder, she was carrying one of the practice swords. Had she signed up? She didn't seem like the arena type.

“Hi,” Briltasi said, sadly. “I brought Kavon to fight for me in the arena. But I guess you have to be a student or something.”

Kavon turned to Daria. “It sucks that I can’t fight for my babe.”

“Hm, funny you should mention that.” Daria paused and straightened her dress. “Since, uh, Magistrate Lli just told me she wants to make good with the Hlaalu security forces and give them a chance to shine. You, Kavon, are a member of those security forces.”

Briltasi frowned. Daria didn’t usually sound nervous, but she sounded nervous that time.

“Huh?” Kavon tried to scratch his head through his helmet.

“You’re a guard, aren’t you? Lli wants to impress the guards. But you have to jump into the fight now!”

“That’s great! Uh, I need one of those wooden sword thingies—”

Daria handed him hers. “Here you go. She wanted me to give this to you.”

Kavon gasped as he took the hilt. “Thanks, Daria!" He turned to Briltasi. "Babe, this is great! Now I can fight for you!”

Briltasi squeaked as Kavon took her by the waist and pushed his helmeted face right into her nose!

“Kavon, you’re still wearing your helmet!” she protested.

But he’d already let her go and run off to battle. Briltasi glared at Daria.

“I don’t believe you! I think you tricked Kavvy into fighting—”

A mighty war cry rang out across the arena as Kavon made his debut.

“I’m the Mystery Knight!” he cried. “I fight because I love my babe!”

He crashed into one of the fighters and knocked the guy down.

Oh, he was so enthusiastic! Briltasi imagined herself at the top of a castle parapet, with Kavvy singing to her below and then killing a big monster, and then they’d have a big feast and get married and her dad wouldn’t care that he was lowborn since he’d been so very brave!

She clasped her hands and sighed in bliss.

“You can thank me later,” Daria said.



*********



Jonus sat on the bench, adjusting the straps that kept his padded helmet attached. He watched as Round 2 started, between Hjaring and Latif.

“Man, what does Quinn see in Jeval?” Julien complained, sitting next to him on the bench.

“Beats me.” He looked to Julien. “Hey, we gotta kick his ass. That way, one of us is sure to impress Quinn.”

“Right. But what if someone else beats him?”

Jonus shrugged. “Look, we have to try our hardest, okay? Even if we never fight Jeval, Quinn’s sure to go out with whoever wins the tournament, and that can still be one of us.”

“I guess—”

Suddenly this huge Dunmer dude in bonemold armor charged screaming onto the arena and bowled Hjaring over. Right after, the new guy wailed on Latif with his sword, Latif trying to ward off the blows. But then Hjaring got up and started hitting the big guy, turning it into a crazy three-way fight.

“Hey, I thought it was supposed to be one-on-one!” Julien said.

“I thought so, too.”

Karl’s voice barely broke over the shouts: “I don’t believe what I’m seeing here, folks! It looks like a new warrior has jumped into the battle! Against regulations, but it does make for a helluva show!”

Then that chick with the glasses—Quinn’s sister, Daria—jogged up to them, out of breath.

“Jonus, Julien,” she said. “You guys like my sister, right?”

“More than anything!” Jonus said.

“And I like her even more than more than anything!” Julien boasted.

“Lucky for you, verbal eloquence isn’t high on her list of turn-ons. Look, she told me she picked Jeval as a test. But that means you have to prove yourselves.”

She pointed to the arena, where three guys still beat on each other as the crowd cheered.

“I bet anyone who could take out those three would be off to a good start,” Daria said.

“She’ll date whoever wins?”

“Not necessarily. But you’ll at least get her attention.”

Julien sprang to his feet. “That’s enough for me! Come on, man.”

“Finally!” Jonus grabbed his sword, ready to wreck the competition.

“Don’t forget: you two are competing with each other, as well,” Daria said.

She had a point. Jonus glared at Julien. He studied his friend’s movement. Was Julien going to try some sneak attack?

He’d try to play it peaceful, first. “Let’s team up to get rid of the big guy. Then we go after each other,” Jonus said.

“Yeah? Or maybe you’re just saying that to get me to turn my back!” Julien retorted.

Whatever, he'd tried. Jonus bellowed and charged Julien with his sword upraised. Julien jumped out of the way and Jonus skidded on the dust.

“Oh no! And it looks like another fight has broken out!” Karl announced. “Chaos rules the day at Drenlyn Academy!”

Jonus spun around as Julien ran for another strike. He swung his sword and drove the flattened edge into Julien’s ribcage. His friend grunted but kept up the attack. Pain exploded in Jonus’s head as the sword bounced off his crown.

“Ow, that hurt!”

Jonus swung wild and grinned when his sword hit something. Then he realized he hadn’t hit Julien. Instead, he’d hit Agrippina, who’d been watching from the bench.

“What the hell was that?” she demanded. Taking her own weapon, she screamed and attacked Jonus.

Musical Outro - Can't Stop, by Red Hot Chili Peppers
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SubRosa
post Dec 4 2022, 02:08 AM
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Karl is the hype man. Perfect casting.

Britalsi is hilarious to read. Like all the other characters, you portray her exactly as she was in the TV show.

Go Daria, Kavon is in the fight! laugh.gif He should have brought a folding chair to the ring, that would have made it the perfect pro wrestling moment!

Daria has cast a chaos rune on the arena. And I bet the crowd is going to love it!


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Renee
post Dec 5 2022, 01:38 AM
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They're really going to do this battle thing. Students battling, mostly. This is intense.

I like how Karl comes out, all confident. Like somebody in WWE! I think that's the wrestling organization.

This sucks? laugh.gif Oh my gosh Kavon's really dumb. And Bril seems out of touch with reality, or something. She wants him to get hurt so she can nurse him back? blink.gif

QUOTE
“Huh?” Kavon tried to scratch his head through his helmet.


rollinglaugh.gif This is funny! "I'M THE MYSTERY MAN, AND I'M HERE TO FIGHT FOR MY BABE!" ... Goodness! Isn't this sort of stuff what they do in those silly wrestling organizations, though?

Two of the Js are still moaning about Quinn. I don't get it! Now that I've seen her picture, sure she's cute. Not really stunning, though. It's like the Three Js are delusional. Or maybe Quinn's got a secret amulet which attracts them or something. Oh wow.

Looks like things are getting out of hand!
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Acadian
post Dec 5 2022, 09:40 PM
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Karl did a good job at warming up the crowd.

Kavon gives his BritalsiBabe a quick kiss for luck – through his closed face helm. laugh.gif

Daria! You conniving, rule-thwarting, sabotaging miscreant! You go, girl! wink.gif

Can’t wait to see how Synda responds to this mayhem.


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WellTemperedClavier
post Dec 7 2022, 05:41 PM
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@SubRosa - Loathsome though Karl may be, he actually is pretty talented. He'd probably do a lot better if he knew how to get over himself. And in the show, there was that episode where acted as the football announcer, and he honestly did a damn good job of it.

@Renee - Briltasi's read a lot of chivalric romances, and isn't quite smart/mature enough to realize that these things don't play out in real life the way they do in books.

You know, I've never actually watched WWE wrestling. But I'm glad I'm capturing the vibe, I know it has a lot of energy and that's what I want for this episode!

Fair. The show wasn't trying that hard to be realistic, so that's why they kept using the Three Js as a recurring gag to show how popular/self-centered Quinn was. Jeval gets a pretty big character moment in this chapter. In fact, the next episode is a single-chapter story told from his perspective--a lot more attention than his show counterpart ever got!

@Acadian - Hey, you can't let a weird helmet get in the way of true love!

Episode 16: Arena

Chapter 6


Jeval watched, dumbfounded, as riot reigned over the tournament. It had all happened so fast: first, Latif and Hjaring were fighting. Then the big guy jumped in. Then Jonus and Julien started their own fight, with most everyone else following shortly after.

“Uh, Quinn?” he asked. “What do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know, this is terrible! The whole point was to show off how we dressed you but no one’s going to pay attention now!”

The brawl kept getting bigger. And closer. Jeval stepped back with his arm outstretched, not wanting an errant blow to hit Quinn or her friends.

Instead, an errant blow hit him on the side of the head.

“Agh!” he cried out, vision flashing.

“Hey, Jeval!”

It was Julien, blood streaming from his nose and his teeth locked in a mad grin. “Come on! Let’s do this!”

“Julien, I don’t think the tournament’s happening any—”

“Yaaargh!” Julien screamed as he charged, his sword raised high.

Jeval brought up his own blade—or stick, actually—with both hands to block the strike. The impact rattled through his arms. Gritting his teeth, he pushed back hard enough to knock Julien off-balance, and followed it up with a strike to his side.

It seemed he was going to be the Fashion Club champion regardless. But hey, he looked damn good doing it!



*********



Briltasi watched in delight as Kavon trashed the competition! Oh, he was like a mighty mountain rising above the waves of a storm-tossed coast, strong against the fury of sea and sky!

She sighed. Again.

It was getting hard to see him in all the chaos, but his heroic figure stood out from the dust and flying bodies, his movements elegant like a dancer’s and so very strong.

Then, one of the students wrapped an arm around Kavon’s neck, trying to get him into some kind of hold! Two more started pummeling him.

That wasn’t fair! Those little dweebs teamed up on him because they couldn’t fight him one-on-one like men! Briltasi closed her hands into fists and glared.

“Oooohh…”

He’d throw them off. Except he still hadn’t. Oh, they were beating him up!

Not on her watch!

Raising her voice in a shrill battle-cry, Briltasi charged into the fray to save her beautiful, clueless knight!



*********



Jolda had retreated to the edge of the arena as chaos erupted around her. Maiko stood next to her, looking like he was trying not to laugh.

“Go ahead, laugh,” she said.

“No, no! But these guys aren’t very good fighters.”

“What do you expect? They’re a bunch of kids. Think maybe you could rein them in?”

He shook his head. “I’d need a bigger team for that. Don’t worry, Jolda: I won’t let them get too close.”

“I’m not worried about that,” she said. “More about Lli blaming me for this. She’s not too big on being embarrassed. And if Lli complains, my dad will be on my case.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Jolda. I’ll vouch for you. And you know how impressed Lli is with a uniform.”

She leaned on him, reassured at his presence. “Thanks.”



*********



Sweat plastered Jeval’s clothes to his skin. Probably not the most fashionable look, but it couldn’t be helped.

He’d beaten Julien, and after that, Jonus (by the looks of it, a few people had already beaten Jonus before him). It’s not like Jeval knew much about sparring, but he was faster than his human peers and that gave him an edge.

He was almost out of energy, though.

“Hey! Jeval!”

A blow from a nearby fight whistled through the air and missed Jeval by inches. He didn’t flinch.

The guy talking to him was Rovern. Jeval knew him a bit, but not well.

“Yeah?”

“So, I gotta fight you.” Rovern pointed at himself with his left thumb.

Jeval’s brow furrowed. “Why? Dude, the tournament’s not a thing anymore—”

“Not about that, I promised someone I would. It’s not personal or nothing, just wanted you to know.”

Rovern was big. Jeval was tired.

“Can’t you say we fought and not do it?” Jeval asked. “I’m pretty beat.”

Rovern looked back over his shoulder. Jeval couldn’t see to whom. “Sorry, no can do. I’ll make it quick.”

Jeval shrugged and raised his weapon. “Bring it on, then. I already took out—”

Rovern swung, hitting Jeval’s sword hard enough to tear it out of his hands and send it hurtling through the air.

“Aw, crap,” Jeval uttered.



*********



Briltasi sat in the dirt and rested her back against the bleachers. Kavon slumped next to her, with a black eye and a split lip. The battle had ended, combatants either standing around confused or lying exhausted in the shade. She could barely hear Magistrate Lli shouting: “All tickets are non-refundable!” somewhere in the distance.

Her entire body ached. But she’d done it! Taken out two of the goons bothering Kavon all on her own! They hadn’t expected her to move so quickly or strike so hard!

“Ugh,” Kavon groaned.

“Oh, Kavvy!” she said. “You fought so bravely!”

“But you had to come help me!”

True. But Kavvy would get sulky if he thought he was a bad fighter. “I got mad seeing them gang up on you. That was like, unchivalrous! I know you’d have beaten them in the end.”

“Aw! Thanks babe!”

They embraced each other, fiercely like in one of those novels.

“Ow, my ribs!” Kavon shrieked.

“Ooh! My back!” Briltasi cried at the same time.

They disengaged and rolled back to the sides.

“I guess knights and princesses can’t make out after battles like they do in the books,” she said.

“Yeah,” Kavon agreed. “Battles kinda suck.”



*********



An angel with hair like molten copper hovered over Jeval.

Then his vision came to. The angel was Quinn, her eyes wide and lips tight with worry as she pressed a damp cloth against his brow.

“Stay still! That guy hit you hard,” she said.

He winced at the pounding pain in his skull. The rest of the Fashion Club stood around him. The battle seemed to be over.

“Are you hurt bad?” Satheri asked.

“I’ll be okay.”

“Guys,” Quinn said, “Jeval did a lot for us. I vote we let him into the club!”

“Wait!” Jeval protested. “I liked the way you made me look. I felt like, cool and stuff. But people will look at me weird if I join you guys. It’s just…”

He felt his cheeks grow hot. “It’s not something guys are supposed to do.”

“What if you joined as an unofficial male consultant?” Treads-on-Ferns suggested. “We’ll be discreet about this, of course.”

“That’s such a great idea, Treads!” Quinn cheered.

Jeval thought it over. “Unofficial? Yeah, okay, I can do that. Besides, after today I feel like I’m probably going to need some new friends.”

Quinn leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. His heart stopped for a moment, taking in all the impressions: her red hair, still shining amidst the dust; her sweet summery scent; her lips, soft and tender, pressed against his cheek.

No woman in the entire world could be more beautiful than her. He knew she’d only meant the kiss as a friendly gesture, but it brought back so much.

“Aw, crap,” he whispered.

“What was that?” she asked, drawing back.

He blushed again. “Nothing!”

Maybe if he waited long enough it’d go away.

But he wasn’t sure he wanted it to.



*********



The Morgendorffers had begun the walk home.

“Wow, that got pretty wild back there! Kinda short, but it was a great show,” dad exclaimed.

“That was an utter travesty,” mom said, shaking her head.

“They didn’t even see the outfit we put together for Jeval!” Quinn complained. “But I guess Synda didn’t get to show off her champion, either.”

Daria said nothing. She’d negated the tournament. But from what she’d heard, it didn’t sound like Quinn’s champion had had any chance of beating Synda’s, rendering her actions largely moot.

And actually, she admitted, rather dangerous. No one had been seriously hurt, but it could’ve gone the wrong way. She’d technically instigated a riot, which counted as a crime. All for what? To protect Quinn from someone who might not be that much of a danger?

She couldn’t keep doing things like this. With Quinn the head of the Fashion Club, and Synda in charge of the Haute Society, confrontation was inevitable.

Someday soon, she’d have to tell Quinn what had happened.

At the same time, Daria wondered if it had really happened the way Synda had described it. Since the more she thought about it, the less sense it made for the Camonna Tong to do Synda's bidding.

But she had to be sure before she did anything.

The End

Musical Outro - The Sporting Life, by The Decemberists

Next episode is a short single-chapter episode. But in the episode after that, Daria will finally try to do something about Synda.
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SubRosa
post Dec 7 2022, 09:53 PM
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Oh no, no one is going to pay attention to how Jeval is dressed! ohmy.gif laugh.gif

You go Briltasi! Get in there and save your man! I wish I could see this happening in real life. It is priceless!

Looks like Daria is finally going to do some detective digging into the case of the Mysterious Sydna and the Cammona Tong. Hopefully she will regain some of her self-confidence along the way.


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Acadian
post Dec 8 2022, 01:02 AM
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Daria’s engineered mayhem was a hoot! She did indeed undo the arena. I’ve reconsidered my opinions of Kavon and Britalsi. I actually think they go together well. Between the two of them they probably can muster most of an entire brain and, well, they are kinda cute together.

Jeval earned himself the Holy Grail – a kiss from Quinn!

I’m betting Daria should be able to ferret out that, although Synda is a formidable foe on her own, I don’t think she has any Tong influence.


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Renee
post Dec 8 2022, 02:48 PM
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What a mess this turned out to be! Quinn is upset because her Fashion Club probably won't get its free advertizement! bigsmile.gif Wow. Go Kavvy, go! Oh no. Bril's going up there, too??? blink.gif

All three Js are down! Sounds like the fight has come to an end. Well hey, at least Bril's got her wish now. The babe can nurse her man back to health (assuming that was not an empty promise). "Battles kinda suck!" laugh.gif

Wow, Jeval got a kiss. cmok.gif Alright, dude, high five! ... Wait... if waited long enough what would go away? (ha ha, kidding).

Hey, at least Daria's okay. She didn't get kidnapped by Camonna Tong. Well good job writing this up, Clavier. Quite entertaining, I must say.


QUOTE
You know, I've never actually watched WWE wrestling. But I'm glad I'm capturing the vibe, I know it has a lot of energy and that's what I want for this episode!


Oh yeah, you definitely got the vibe. I've never watched it either, but I've seen plenty of TV commercials for some pro wrestling events peripherally while not paying full attention. I also worked with a guy who wrestled on an amateur level. That's when I worked at Chili's! laugh.gif Anyway, one night after work we all went to watch the guys beat each other up in some local VFW hall, it was both funny and pathetic at the same time!

I can tell you this, though. The main thing a lot of folks say about pro wrestling is "but it's all fake. It's all scripted." And yes, this is true to some extent. When Hulk Hogan went up against Iron Sheik (or whomever) and one of these two won, that would be a scripted outcome. But what I've learned from the Chili's wrestler/waiter was that there are moments when things go too far. Anger overcomes one guy, and things happen which don't seem fake, anymore. This is why that question still comes up after all these decades: "is wrestling fake?"

A great movie is The Wrestler, starring Micky Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Micky fights on an amateur level, and it captures those moments. For instance, there's a scene where he goes up against 'The Stapler', whose schtick is that he uses a stapler as he fights. Micky does not know this beforehand. indifferent.gif You'll see what happens there if you ever watch.

This post has been edited by Renee: Dec 8 2022, 03:01 PM
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WellTemperedClavier
post Dec 10 2022, 04:55 PM
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@SubRosa - Well, at least Daria noted that he was dressed pretty sharply. Not sure if anyone else noticed.

I got the idea for Briltasi joining the fray based on how Brittany was a pretty effective paintball player in "The Daria Hunter". There's a running joke in the fandom that Brittany joins special forces as an adult. She'd be an effective operator so long as she has a good officer to point her in the right direction.

@Acadian - Yeah, Kavon and Briltasi do fit pretty well.

Daria's slowly figuring out the truth about Synda. But she also knows that Morrowind's a complicated place, and that a lot of the darker stuff happens behind the scenes. She'll have to tread carefully.

@Renee - I'm sure Briltasi will help Kavon back on his feet. Once she gets back on her feet, that is.

Thanks, this one was fun to write. Daria, the show, usually spreads its attention across multiple characters in an episode. My writing tends to focus more on the given protagonist of a chapter, so it was a fun exercise to try and keep this many plates spinning.

I've seen The Wrestler! It's a good movie, though hard to watch. Yeah, pro wrestling is a lot like a specialized type of theater. Sure it's scripted, but the actors are still working quite hard and sometimes at great personal cost. And like you said, sometimes in the heat of the moment the actors lose the script and things get real.

I can't remember if this is official TES lore, or something from the TR/PT mod, but the Redguards have an interesting type of theater. Basically, it's very action-heavy, featuring actors who pretend to fight and duel in the center of the stage. There is dialogue, but it's spoken by a kind of chorus that stays off to the side, the idea being that the physical acting is too intense for an actor to do that and speak at the same time. Regardless of where it's from, it's canon to this story (even if I never mention it).

Episode 17: The Horn Identity

Dad hadn’t shaved his horns in a while.

The two bony protuberances stuck up from his forehead, strands of limp blond hair hanging like curtains off the sides. Dad didn’t used to wear his hair long but had started ever since they moved to Balmora. Come to think of it, that was when he’d stopped shaving his horns as regularly.

For his part, Jeval was glad that he hadn’t inherited horns. It was already tough enough to make your way as a Bosmer in Morrowind. Horns made it harder.

It was late on Fredas night, mom and his little sister already asleep. Jeval had been headed to his room when dad pulled him into the kitchen to ask the usual junk about his day.

Jeval gave the short version, hoping his dad would take the hint and let him go. Dad never got the hint.

“If you like this girl, just tell her. That’s how I did it with your mom back in the village.” Dad flashed his sharpened teeth in a grin. “And some girls before her, too.”

Jeval sighed. He wished he hadn’t told dad about Quinn. Now dad was going to give all this advice that might have worked great if Jeval was after a Bosmer girl in Valenwood. Not so great when he was after an Imperial girl in Morrowind.

“I kinda did earlier,” Jeval admitted, thinking back to the dumb things he used to do with Jonus and Julien to get Quinn’s attention. Amazing she put up with him at all. Any minute, he expected her to bring that up and push him to the side, and this time for good.

“It didn’t work?” dad pressed on.

“Uh, hard to say. Didn’t get a clear answer.”

“Then move on. Life’s short, even for Mer.” Dad leaned in. “You know, I remember a guy from the village, Gochal. Everyone liked him. Then one day, a senche-tiger jumped out of the bush and dragged him away!”

Jeval didn’t roll his eyes, but he wanted to. “Senche-tigers don’t live in Balmora, dad.”

Dad made a dismissive gesture. “Don’t waste time over this girl. Go for someone else. You’re as sentimental as an Imperial.”

Jeval had gone after others. For a while. Then Quinn had kissed him. Just on the cheek, so not like she was interested. But by all the gods, he wanted to freeze that moment forever: her soft lips pressed against his flesh, his cuts and bruises forgotten.

“Yeah, well,” Jeval said, wondering how far he wanted to go, “you did raise me in an Imperial town. If you wanted me to be like a proper Bosmer you should’ve stayed in Valenwood.”

He’d gone too far. He saw it in the way the crinkles around dad’s eyes furrowed, the tension that crept up his arms. Jeval braced himself. Whatever, bring it on.

Instead, dad relaxed. “Ah, but you still got that Bosmer survival sense,” he said, reaching out and poking Jeval’s chest with a bony index finger. “Use it! That’s how we survived the jungle, and that’s how we’ll survive here.”

Jeval’s cheeks burned at the gesture. “Right, survival skills are what you need in the jungle. But you want to get anywhere here, you need social skills. Anyway, I’m beat, I need sleep,” he said, cutting off the conversation before it got any more awkward.



*********



He woke up at dawn to fetch the day’s water, like always. A light drizzle misted the streets as he stepped out of the house, wrapped up in a warm but ugly wool cloak that he’d never let Quinn catch him wearing. Bucket in hand and his breath coming out in puffs of mist, he made his way to the fountain in Llethri Plaza. A silt strider crooned in the distance, its many-legged silhouette lumbering to the strider port in the south.

Women already lined up at the fountain, most of them Imperials and other humans. News and gossip jumped from mouth to mouth, and in minutes Jeval learned that Otulus’s son had abandoned the family business to join the legion and that Rylata really was going to sell her mother’s jewelry (the shame of it all!) so that her daughter could invest in some crazy scheme.

No one talked to Jeval. As the only guy in the line, he stood out. Dad said that in Valenwood, the youngest and strongest people gathered water since they’d best be able to avoid crocodiles. Balmora didn’t have crocodiles, but Jeval was young and strong, so it was his job anyway.

He’d always hidden this chore from Jonus and Julien. They’d give him a hard time for doing what most people thought was women’s work. He hadn’t told the Fashion Club either. Felt weird enough that he hung out with girls to talk about fashion.

Maybe the Fashion Club saw him as one of the girls. Which was okay, except he didn’t want Quinn to see him that way.

The line inched forward beneath the murky skies. Jeval tapped his foot. He hated how long it always took. Maybe they should do it like in Valenwood and gather water from the river. Not that he’d ever drink from the Odai. His turn finally came, and he put his bucket under the stream and let it fill up. Once done, he sidled past a pair of middle-aged Nord women talking about how Hjufra Tawny-braid had rejected another suitor, and could you believe she’d be so picky at her age?

Well, why shouldn’t she be picky? he wondered. Jeval guessed he was pretty picky, too.

Thunder boomed somewhere in the distance. Great. Dad hadn’t thought it was going to actually rain that day. Otherwise they’d have left the bucket on the roof. Oh well, what was one more pointless task?

Grimacing, he hurried back to his house as the drizzle turned to rain. He’d almost reached the front door when he saw Treads-on-Ferns on the other side of the street, her snout pointed at the sky. She cradled a box in her scaly arms.

“Treads?” he called out.

Her yellow eyes opened. “Oh, hi, Jeval. Didn’t know you lived here.”

“Uh, what are you doing out in the rain? Actually, I need to get this inside so my mom can make breakfast. Hold on.”

Jeval opened the door and went to the kitchen, where his sister was already stoking the coals in the stove while mom poured saltrice into a big mixing bowl for the morning’s porridge.

“Here’s the water,” he said. Then he grabbed a battered guar-hide parasol and walked back out, taking a minute to finagle the parasol through the door.

Treads-on-Ferns was looking up at the sky again when he joined her. He stood close and raised the parasol over their heads.

She made a sound that was kind of like a purr, except not quite. Jeval was pretty sure that was a good sound. “Thanks, but no need," she said. "Rainwater’s good for my scales. Makes them vibrant.”

“Oh, uh, okay,” he said, stepping to the side so that the parasol only covered him. “So what are you doing out this early?”

Treads gestured to the box in her hand, which had a little slot at the top. “Donations for the Argonian Mission. My parents have me do this every Loredas morning.”

“Argonian Mission?” Jeval asked.

“Yeah. They do what they can to help Argonians in Morrowind.”

“Oh, cool. Is there a Bosmer Mission?”

“There is, but I think it’s on the mainland.”

“Cool, I didn’t know we had one.” A gust of wind cut through the street, and Jeval shivered. “So you raise a lot of cash?”

She shook her head. “Nah.”

Feeling a bit guilty, Jeval reached into his pocket and took out a few tarnished septims, which he put into the box. “Sorry,” he said. “Don’t have a lot on me.”

“Thank you. Every bit helps.”

“Why don’t you ask Quinn and the others? They have more than I do.”

“Quinn contributed some when I asked her. But bugging friends to do that is a good way to lose friends.” She hissed for a second or two. “I’m not in a position where I can afford to do that, you know?”

“Yeah. Quinn’s something else,” Jeval said.

She was. He’d seen plenty of hot babes in Drenlyn, but Quinn had something more. Like when she talked to you, she made you feel like you mattered.

Even if you didn’t.

“You’re still in love with her, aren’t you,” Treads said.

Jeval gulped.

“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything,” Treads continued. “But I’ll tell you right now, she doesn’t feel the same way about you.”

Jeval hung his head. “Yeah, I get that. I mean, I’m not going to make a lot of drama over this, or anything. Sucks though. Is there a guy she likes?” Which, he realized, was a dumb thing to ask. “Not like you have to tell me—” he started.

“I can decide on my own what to tell you. To answer your question, if she does, she hasn’t told me. Honestly, I’m not sure Quinn actually cares about romance that much. She loves the idea of it, but so far as I can tell, she’s never been interested in anyone in that way.”

“Huh,” Jeval said, nodding. “That’s kinda cool, I guess. Beats having crushes, right?”

That wouldn’t hurt so bad. Quinn, always beautiful, always chaste. And him at her side, friends to the very end.

But that was a dumb thing to think. Plus, since he was a Bosmer, he'd live way longer than her. It was okay to date humans, dad always said, but you should only marry Mer. Which ticked Jeval off whenever he heard it, but yeah, the age thing (and a million other things) made Men-Mer romances complicated.

“Do you have anyone, Treads?” he asked.

Treads fluttered her eye lids and inched closer. “Why?” she whispered. “You trying to tell me you’re interested?”

“Oh…” Jeval trailed off. He had screwed up big-time. “You’re really, uh, cool and—”

A bunch of short hisses escaped her mouth, whistling past her sharp teeth. Laughter, he was pretty sure. She’d pranked him.

“I’m giving you a hard time. No offense, but I don’t find Men or Mer attractive. Which I’m fine with because they don’t usually find Argonians attractive.”

“Right,” he said. He scratched the back of his neck with his free hand. Was he offending her? Dammit, he didn’t know what to say. “Most people don’t find Bosmer attractive, either. Not Bosmer guys, anyway. We’re too short, skinny, and weird-looking.”

Though plenty of humans liked to get it on with Bosmer girls. He left it unsaid, though.

The scales above Treads-on-Ferns’s eyes sank slightly as she looked him over. Maybe her version of raising her eyebrows? “You look pretty normal to me. I’ll admit I might not pick up on some of the differences. But hey, Bosmer girls like Bosmer guys, right?”

“Yeah. But there aren’t a lot my age here in Balmora. And Quinn’s the one I want.”

“You’re going to have to get over her sooner or later, Jeval.”

He let out a breath and looked down at the ground for a moment. “I know. It’s just… it’s hard. Like I can’t imagine finding anyone better.”

“She is pretty impressive. Have you noticed she seems to attract a lot of broken people? Tiphannia’s got that brain fog, Satheri’s always in a panic, I’m an Argonian in a province that hates my people. But we’re all with her.”

“Yeah! It’s like she fixes us.”

Treads-on-Ferns shook her head. “No, she doesn’t. She can’t. But for a while, she makes it seem like being broken is okay.”

Jeval thought about it a bit. Was he broken? He felt lost, at least. “I guess I’ll take that,” he said.

They stood in silence for a while, listening to the rain spatter against the flagstones. A thought came to Jeval.

“Hey, Treads, uh, sorry if I’m getting too in your business, but why do you live in Morrowind? Are you from here? Or did you move here, like I did?”

Treads didn’t say anything right away and, for a second, Jeval thought he’d made her mad. Then she spoke.

“I moved here. I grew up in Cyrodiil, in Leyawiin. My dad’s an ex-soldier and is a contractor with the Legion. They wanted him here, so here we are. Believe me, I’d rather be in any other province.”

“Okay. Yeah, I grew up in Cyrodiil too, over in Kvatch. My dad’s a courier, usually works for outlander merchants or the government. Him and my mom are from Valenwood but they had to get out ‘cause of the war in the ‘90s.”

“Oh, sorry! That’s hard.”

Jeval shrugged. “He doesn’t talk about it much. That’s why I got the last name Whitethorn, by the way. Bosmer don’t do last names, but he wanted to fit in when he moved, so that’s what we got.”

“My folks never went that far. They’re still pretty Cyrodiilic in a lot of ways. I don’t know a whole lot about Argonians.”

“I don’t know that much about my people, either. You ever see my dad? He’s got horns and filed teeth!” Jeval laughed, wanting to show he thought it was ridiculous, and raised his index and little fingers to his forehead in mockery.

“Wait, really?” Treads’ throat bulged out for a second. Jeval had no idea what, if anything, that meant. “I didn’t know Bosmer had horns.”

“Most don’t. I don’t! But some of the guys do. I guess it’s a pretty big deal in Valenwood, like they think you’re cool if you have them. Here it makes you look weird. Glad I didn’t inherit those.”

“Huh. I kinda get that though,” Treads said. “Like it’s him, right? So why shouldn’t he look the part?”

“’Cause it looks weird! Aren’t we like the Fashion Club, or something?”

“Sure, but think how Quinn does it. When I asked her for advice, she tailored it to how I look, with my scales, and tail, and everything. Do you have any idea how few people get that?”

Jeval gulped and shoved his hands into his pockets. Stupid of him to open his big mouth like that. “Yeah, I get what you mean. Sorry.”

“It’s cool.”

“Do you ever think you’d go to Black Marsh?” Jeval asked.

Treads made a guttural noise. “Maybe. I used to want to. But I don’t think I’d fit in. I don’t even have any Argonian friends.”

“I don’t have any Bosmer ones, either. But hey, maybe weirdos like us make friends with each other.”

Jeval wasn’t sure if that helped. But it was better than saying they’d be alone and adrift all the time. Wasn’t it?

Treads’s scaly mouth lifted to reveal her sharp teeth. “Yeah. I guess that works. We’re tougher than most, so we make homes wherever we go.”

“Hell yeah!”

The door to Jeval’s house opened up and his sister stepped out. “Jeval! Breakfast’s ready!”

“Okay!” He looked to Treads. “Guess I better go. You going to be okay out here?”

“Trust me. A rainy day for me is like a sunny day for anyone else. It’s colder than I’d like, but I can deal with that.”

“Heh, okay. Later.”

Inside, Jeval joined his family as they sat on thick antelope hides and ate the porridge mom had prepared. Dad grumbled about eating vegetables.

“That’s why Dunmer and Imperials are so uptight,” he said. “Not enough meat!”

When he finished, Jeval took a ladle and scooped out some trama root tea from the big bone kettle on the floor and poured it into his clay cup.

“Actually, mom?”

“Yes?” she asked.

“Is it okay if I bring some tea to my friend outside?”

Her eyes widened. “Of course! In fact, bring him the whole pot. The poor dear must be frigid!”

Jeval chuckled. “She’s Argonian, so I think she likes the rain. But she’ll like the tea, too. Thanks.”

Taking the kettle and a few cups, he headed back out into the rain.



*********



Jeval woke up early the next day. He got out of his hammock and got dressed before stepping out into the main room. Dad was already there, using light from the window to study his reflection in an old brass mirror. In his other hand he held a whetstone, which he sometimes used to sharpen his horns.

“Hey, dad,” Jeval said.

Dad pulled himself away from the mirror. “Yeah?”

“The horns are a good look.”

He blinked, looking a bit doubtful. “You think so?”

“Yeah, I do. They make you stand out. So you don’t look like everyone else. People will, uh, remember you.”

Dad didn’t say anything for a moment. Then he smiled. “I suppose they do.”

Not wanting to say anything more, Jeval picked up the bucket and headed out to gather the day’s water.



The End

Musical Outro - Die Anywhere Else, from the Night in the Woods OST, covered by Penny Parker and PryinBrian
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SubRosa
post Dec 10 2022, 07:32 PM
Post #279


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Some Bosmer have horns? Wild. Well literally so. That prompted me to look, and I see it is an ESO thing. Interesting.

Wow, Dad is actually giving some good parenting advice. Move on Jeffie, or Joey, or Jamie, whichever J you are. Even if you somehow got that girl, you probably would not like what you ended up with. (though maybe, I do believe in one of the episodes they had a look into the future, I think of what Daria hoped life would look like in 20 years. And Quinn was not so vapid and self-centered there.)

Hello Treads. I wonder if she might be looking for a boyfriend? I hear young Bosmer men are quite the catch... wink.gif

Treads has a lot of insights into Quinn, and how she attracts people to her who are less advantaged.

Awww, what a nice little interlude between Jevvie/Joey/Jeffie and Treads. It looks like he might have even grown a bit from it.


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Acadian
post Dec 11 2022, 09:56 PM
Post #280


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A very fun look at the ‘outlander’ perspective in Morrowind by Bosmer Jeval with the horny dad and Treads on Ash the Argonian. As SubRosa said, neat insights by Treads and it looks like Jeval may have expanded his thinking - in a good way - a bit.

Yes, Buffy does sometimes encounter Bosmer with horns in ESO – of both sexes. It seems to work. And she also appreciates the challenges of trying to love someone who measures their life in decades when she measures hers in centuries. kvright.gif


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