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> Sleeper in the Cave, a Morrowind fanfic
ghastley
post Jul 10 2019, 04:09 PM
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QUOTE
a mix of kwama cuttle and shalk resin
- of course I had to look up what an alchemist gets from that. Apparently you wouldn't want to drink the stuff, but the water walking/breathing aspects of the kwama cuttle should be good for boots, if it makes them repel water that way.

My recollection of using water walking was that you got quite a bit of warning as it faded. I assume Adryn had expected it to last a bit longer, or a re-cast would have been in order. Will they be foraging for Ampoule Pod now?




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Grits
post Jul 12 2019, 02:47 PM
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I absolutely loved young Nerevar’s trip to the Dwemer city. Even in the ruins in ESO there is the sense of awe when you get to where you can see over the city, and you captured it. Tremendous!

I’ve enjoyed catching up with Adryn’s adventures. The Adryn and Jamie parts are my favorite. I love their friendship.


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haute ecole rider
post Jul 15 2019, 01:52 PM
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Jaime is growing on me! I really enjoy her company as much as Adryn does, if not more . . .

Enjoyed the meditations on learning a second (third, fourth, whatever) language - the best parts are learning to cuss in new ways . . .

As Julian would say, Cacat!


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Kazaera
post Jul 28 2019, 08:24 PM
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@everyone - apologies for the absence! I was so busy one weekend that I forgot to update, and then the weekend after I was in the Alps with no internet connection.

@treydog - I'm very happy to hear that my hinting that there is something really really off about Adryn's knowledge of the Dwemer right now came through! I'm of course limited in how direct I can be by the fact that my POV character has no clue what's going on, but I was hoping people would pick up on this bit. smile.gif

Finding stable-hands may be a bit of a trial in Vvardenfell, but I suspect I can always point Adryn at some guar-herders if push comes to shove wink.gif

@SubRosa - yep... I think you're entirely right that this life wouldn't be enough for her, but Adryn isn't exactly the best at self-reflection so it may take a while for her to work that one out. I guess we'll have to see how it goes wink.gif

@ghastley - I admit in this particular case I went more with "what ingredients sound like they could offer a plausible treatment for leather", although ofc kwama cuttle's water-walking effect should also add some nice magical water-proofing. Re: water-walking - yeah, you can see the spell wearing off, but at the same time I'm fairly sure I once also managed to miss it entirely and I'm not nearly as distractible as Adryn! (I like to think...)

@Grits - am glad you like the Adryn and Jamie show! Jamie was always meant to be a recurring character, but I had some trouble working her in at the start. Now they're both in a place where they have reason to interact a lot, and I like playing them off each other - they have a nice dynamic, especially because Jamie is emotionally intelligent/insightful in some ways Adryn is really lacking and can use that to keep herself from getting entirely steamrollered (as opposed to, say, Varvur).

@haute ecole rider - true story, Adryn learning Dunmeris was the plan from the start but coincidentally I'm currently trying to learn Spanish and am using some of my experiences as fodder there. Even though I'm still fairly empty as far as curse words go - something for my to-do list... And I'm glad you like Jamie! As mentioned to Grits, I'm glad I have reason to have her around more because I very much like her dynamic with Adryn.

And now for the update...

Last installment, we saw Adryn settle into her life, including ingredient-gathering expeditions with Jamie in the swamps around Balmora. Last we saw her, she was testing out new colourful Dunmeris vocabulary after her water-walking spell hat worn off unexpectedly.

Chapter 19.6
*****


After that, I took much more care when it came to recasting my water-walking spell before it ran out, and the rest of the journey back to Balmora went smoothly. It rather surprised me – at this point I was used to any journeys in the wilderness getting quickly derailed by naked Nords, ash storms, random strangers in need of rescue, and similar such horrors. As a result, it came as something of a shock to climb to the top of a steep hill and see Balmora spread beneath us in the evening twilight with nothing more than my tumble having occurred on the trip.

"Same time Mondas?" Jamie suggested.

I couldn't find a reason to argue, especially once I offloaded my haul. I'd vaguely remembered from my early days on the island that coda flowers were valuable, and was more than happy to see this proven true. Sadly, this was less true for many of the other ingredients I'd gathered – the mushrooms, in particular. Probably not much of a surprise, since I remembered from my experiments with Ajira in my first days on the island that they didn't exactly offer much in the way of useful effects. Cienne actually didn't want to buy them at all for that reason; Methal was thankfully willing, but even with me haggling my very best the coin still didn't amount to much. I left the place once again brainstorming how I might get my hands on a decent-quality alchemy setup for personal use.

"And space to use it," Ajira added the next morning.

"How so?" I inquired as I slathered scrib jelly over my roll. My voice echoed a little in the empty dining hall.

After my initial escape to the Ald'ruhn guild, I figured it wouldn't be particularly prudent to head straight back to Balmora for the breakfasts. I'd resigned myself to missing out, only to find Ajira on the guild guide platform the next morning, bearing not just a bag filled with fresh spiced rolls and various toppings but also balancing a pot of Dulnea's tea. I had no idea what she'd done to talk the woman out of it... nor what I'd done to deserve such a good friend. I knew Ajira enjoyed the group breakfasts, and although Erranil joined us sometimes most days it was just the two of us.

"An alchemy lab takes room, yes? And it has special requirements. You must be able to heat the calcinator, must have a vent for fumes... even if friend Adryn chances across a grandmaster's equipment, she cannot simply set it up in the guild dining hall, can she?"

I brought my palm to my forehead. I should have thought of that.

"M'vith yah!" I swore.

I was coming to like the Dunmeris curses – for some reason, they rolled off the tongue a lot more easily than the Tamrielic ones ever had. I really needed to thank Tanar one of these days...

"Your pronunciation is excellent," Ajira observed.

"Thanks!" Ajira would know, I supposed. She'd proclaimed herself surprised I didn't speak the language already when she'd first stumbled on me bent over a sheaf of vocabulary – it turned out she was in fact completely fluent in it. Probably not a surprise, since she was from Vvardenfell.

"Particularly the th, Ajira thinks. Many speakers of Tamrielic she knows have trouble with it, great trouble – but friend Adryn sounds almost like a native."

I blinked in surprise. "Well, it's the same sound as in Ta'agra, isn't it? Like in rawlith, or thjizzrini."

Ajira's ears, relaxed against her head, stood straight up. "Friend Adryn speaks Ta'agra?" The astonishment couldn't be clearer if she'd taken out a headline in the Courier.

"Er, yes." I suddenly realised that our discussions about comparative linguistics had skipped over part of my own language skills. I'd told Ajira I'd never tried to learn a foreign language before, but not... "I've always known it. I honestly don't remember how or where I learned." Even as the words left my mouth, I could feel how odd they were.

It was one of the bigger mysteries of my existence: how a Dunmer child left in a village in Daggerfall came to speak Ta'agra. I knew it had been the subject of a number of hushed discussions. Do'kharza, who'd said I had a picture-perfect Reaper's March accent, was particularly interested and liked to suggest travelling to Anequina to see if we could find some trace of my history. "When everything is over," he'd say, and I'd happily imagine some past for myself filled with adventure and mystery and possibly Baandari.

By the time everything was in fact over, I'd lost both my protectors and my taste for looking back. This was the most I'd thought about my language skills in years.

"Ajira is grieved to admit she is jealous."

"Oh? Do you not speak Ta'agra, then?"

Most of the Khajiit I'd met in Skyrim had – handy for being able to keep in practice with it after Do'kharza was gone, never to mention lose my child's vocabulary and phrasing. Even if I was still at something of a loss for curse words, unlike in Dunmeris. Personally, I thought Dar'munaq had taken perverse pleasure in keeping his language squeaky-clean around me.

Ajira's mouth pulled into a grimace. "She wishes. But no. You must understand Ajira's family, you see."

"Oh?" I poured myself a cup of tea, then leaned back. This sounded like a story.

"It begins with Ajira's grandfather's grandmother. Ajadhi, was her name, from Quin'rawl. A beautiful land, of wild jungles and ancient temples, blue seas and sandy shores. Unfortunately for Ajadhi, also a dangerous land, with hoarvors and wamasu... and, some moons, slavers."

My heart sank. I could tell where this story was going and I didn't like it. "She was captured?"

Ajira nodded gravely. "Captured and taken to Morrowind, never to see her jungles again. Her daughter Nisaari was born in the slave-camps of a Dres plantation, sold to Hlaalu when she was still a kit. And do you know what slave-owners hate? They hate their slaves speaking a language they do not know. A lullaby to a crying child could be fomenting rebellion, after all. And so Nisaari spoke only little Ta'agra, and her children none at all."

I bowed my head at the weight of pain in that story. A language might seem a small thing in comparison to all else that had been lost... but in the last month I'd learned myself how hurtful it could be to be unable to speak your ancestral tongue.

"And so Ajira does not speak Ta'agra, just as her friend does not speak Dunmeris," Ajira said, echoing my thoughts. "But at least Adryn is learning, yes?"

"Are there no classes for Ta'agra? Nobody willing to teach? Surely some of the free Khajiit in Morrowind can speak it."

Ajira waggled her hand in a side-to-side motion. "There are fewer not from Ajira's background than you might think. And when it comes to the Khajiit from Elsweyr, there are... differences of opinion regarding certain matters. It makes some relations fraught." Leaving that impressively vague statement behind, she continued. "Ajira has not heard of classes."

The words I'm sorry were on the tip of my tongue. A helpless statement, that, one that spread its hands and said it is an awful thing you tell me, but there is nothing I can do about it. All I can do is express my sympathy and move the conversation to happier matters...

The words were on the tip of my tongue but stayed there, arrested by a niggling impulse. It was the same impulse that had led to any number of unpleasant happenings over the last few weeks, involving kagouti, naked Nords, murderous Velothi, and of course we couldn't possibly forget Varvur. Alas, even knowing the likely consequences didn't stop it from growing stronger and stronger, replacing the words I'd been planning to speak with ones quite different.

I sighed in defeat and promised myself that Athyn Sarethi would not hear of this.

*****


And that was how I found myself giving Ta'agra classes.

They weren't originally intended to be classes. I was rather dubious of my ability as a teacher, never to mention shy in front of large groups. No, I agreed to try teaching Ajira some of what I knew and figured that would be the end of it. However, lingering near the guild guide platform the next morning I was surprised to find two passengers coming from Balmora instead of the expected one. Jobasha came out of the teleport with a stately nod, teapot in one hand and a notebook in the other. Given his proximity to people that would be able to call certain events I was doing my best to avoid down on my head, never to mention a certain favour I'd been hoping to ask of him, I decided acquiescing to the unexpected extra student was the best part of diplomacy. And since I'd agreed to one extra already, I felt I couldn't turn down Ri'Shajirr and Baissa who showed up the next day. And only a monster would be able to refuse little Ma'Vija...

To make a long story short, one thing led to another, and by the end of the week breakfast was getting unwieldy enough that I found myself asking Edwinna how one went about reserving a classroom.

Edwinna's initial reaction was surprisingly wary – I suspected a story involving illicit use of guild rooms hiding behind her skeptical look, one I'd quite like to hear – but her skepticism turned into delight when told of the purpose. "It's an excellent idea," she said. "The Dunmeris lessons have been very popular, and Vala's course in basic literacy is one of the mainstays of the guild. I've been wanting to arrange more classes for the public – it's just difficult to find anyone with the necessary expertise who's also willing to teach. Would you mind if we advertised them?"

I paused. It was a fair suggestion, even if I thought word of mouth was already doing all the advertising they needed. All the same, I had some very good reasons to want to avoid drawing attention.

Considering the events of my first weeks on the island, this might admittedly look rather like barring the gates with the frost troll already inside. However, if I'd managed to avoid drawing Guild attention up until now, I'd really like that to continue.

Edwinna apparently noticed my hesitation. She added, "Of course, as the Mages' Guild would be profiting from your activities, we would be willing to pay you for your time."

Images swam before my eyes... alembics, calcinators, bubbling potions in a small but well-appointed alchemy lab. One of those cloaks Bivale Teneran's shop under Skar was selling now that the days were growing cold, beyond my means thus far thanks to the hood lined with imported snow fox fur from Solstheim. A filled bookshelf. Enchanted earplugs.

"Done," I said instantly. Then my sense of self-preservation caught up with me. "...can we at least keep my name off the adverts?"

"I suppose so," Edwinna said, shooting me an odd look. Apparently it wasn't a request she'd expected me to make.

"I like my privacy," I tried to justify myself without using the words fugitive, Thieves' Guild, dragged back to Skyrim, or anything else that may have described the true state of affairs but still constituted things my guildmistress Did Not Need To Know. "Besides, it's probably better if we don't shout the fact that a Dunmer is teaching the class from the rooftops."

As I said the last, I realised it was a valid argument in and of itself. I hadn't missed the looks some of my new students had sent my way. Given how they'd come to lose Ta'agra in the first place, it was hardly a wonder if my presence as a teacher grated... but that still didn't mean I cared to make myself a target for any young angry Khajiit.

"Well, if you say so." Judging by her nonplussed expression, Edwinna, like the good absent-minded scholar she was, had missed the undercurrents entirely. "It shouldn't be a problem to keep your name out of it, anyway. Now, what time slot were you thinking?"

*****


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SubRosa
post Jul 30 2019, 03:13 PM
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Those pesky naked Nords do tend to derail things don't they! laugh.gif

Learning those swear words is the most important part of picking up a new language. I can swear in several languages, none of which I can otherwise say a single sentence in of course.

So Adryn is going to make mad monies teaching Cat-Speak! That is an interesting turn, but one entirely obvious once you saw the snowball effect starting to take shape.


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ghastley
post Jul 31 2019, 02:27 PM
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I can see Adryn's point about keeping her name off the announcement. But will there be expectations of "Ta'agra for Dunmeris speakers" that she'll have problems fulfilling? Better get it promoted as "Ta'agra for Tamrielic speakers" up-front.

There also ought to be some free lessons in something for her from this. Just don't let her end up not getting paid!


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treydog
post Aug 1 2019, 12:48 PM
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This latest part was a perfect sampling of the humor and the poignancy that is Adryn's life on Vvardenfell. And once again, her innate goodness- which she of course, DOES NOT possess, shines through, as she agrees to give the precious gift of language back to those from whom it was taken.

QUOTE
I sighed in defeat and promised myself that Athyn Sarethi would not hear of this.


Good luck with that- I think he knows if a lizard runs across a rock anywhere in Ald'ruhn.

QUOTE
Images swam before my eyes... alembics, calcinators, bubbling potions in a small but well-appointed alchemy lab. One of those cloaks Bivale Teneran's shop under Skar was selling now that the days were growing cold, beyond my means thus far thanks to the hood lined with imported snow fox fur from Solstheim. A filled bookshelf. Enchanted earplugs.


And of course, one has to be delighted by the things Adryn's heart most desires.

One of my favorite things is the slow, disjointed (because that is how it is happening to her) revelation of Adryn's past.


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Kazaera
post Feb 9 2020, 10:58 PM
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Insert the usual apologies for vanishing just before the end of the chapter here. I meant to be back earlier, but life has been a tad ridiculous for the past six months. The good news is that it's getting back to normal and my new job is looking a lot better than my old one was at the end! The other good news is that I finally managed to finish the section I was stuck on in the upcoming chapter, so I have the sort of buffer build up that means I'm happy to start posting again.

@treydog - thanks for commenting, glad you like it! smile.gif And especially glad you like the parcelling out of Adryn's past, as this is very much a purposeful Thing. You also might like this installment, in that case... whistling.gif

@ghastley - that is actually a... really good point. Like, I think the fact that it's run through the Mages' Guild will make the language obvious, but OTOH most of the enslaved or slave-descended Khajiit speak (a dialect of) Dunmeris as their native language and a few of them might actually not know that much Tamrielic. I might need to do something with this.

In general, I try not to go back and edit earlier sections because I'm going to have a hard enough time finishing this already, but something I wish I'd done more of is work with the languages - the idea of Dunmeris vs Tamrielic and how it works in Adrynverse is something that crept up on me as I was writing and it should really have a greater presence in some of the earlier chapters than it does. Oh well!

@SubRosa - The subtitle for this fic: one brave alchemist vs the naked Nords of Morrowind! laugh.gif And the Ta'agra thing is something I've wanted to introduce for a while, but I hadn't quite had the right opportunity. (Although another edit I might make is to go back and drop in a reference or two to it in earlier chapters, so it's less out of nowhere.)

Last installment, Adryn's peaceful life at the guild took a strange turn when she was coerced... OK, let's be honest, coerced herself... into volunteering her skills as a language teacher. Everyone is a little puzzled about how exactly Adryn comes to speak Ta'agra, Adryn herself included, but she's not inclined to think overly much on her past - especially when there is money to be made.

Let's see how that's going.

Chapter 19.7
*****


One of the advantages of my new role as Ta'agra tutor to what was beginning to seem like half the free Khajiit in western Vvardenfell was that it gave me the opportunity to interact more with Jobasha. After a few awkward starts, we'd mutually decided to forget about any initial meetings involving blackmail, Jobasha's contacts in the Thieves' Guild, him getting me arrested for murder, and other such trifles. This was fine by me, as it allowed us to form an acquaintanceship on a much more solid foundation: namely, books. Jobasha claimed his to be the finest bookstore in Vvardenfell. That title was no exaggeration, because his ability to procure rare volumes was unparalleled. I was beginning to think that if he decided the Oghma Infinium would look good on his shelves, it would be there within weeks.

Today, he stayed near the doorway as the rest of my class filed out and I poured myself some water from a flask, throat dry from near an hour of speaking. In any other person, I'd have called what he was doing dawdling, but Jobasha was far too dignified for any such activity.

"Jobasha has some of the items you were asking about," he said once the rest of the group had left. "Here."

A thick book was pressed into my hands. It was bound in brown hide inscribed with sinuous curling patterns that spread in three lines across its front, another along the spine.

"It is quite difficult to find books written in Ta'agra these days," Jobasha told me. "Alas, Jobasha could not find one accompanied by Tamrielic. He hopes this will do – it is called Hazura di Ahnissi-ro Shir'fado, his sources tell him." He pronounced the words very carefully.

"Thanks, Jobasha. I'm sure it'll be fine," I said with more confidence than I felt.

Unfortunately for the breadth of my classes, although I knew how to speak Ta'agra perfectly well, I'd never learned to read it. It was a lack I felt quite sorely when I was standing at the front of a slate-board with a piece of chalk in my hand, with Baissa's eyes boring into me silently communicating her disbelief that a Dunmer claimed to be a suitable teacher for the language of her people. I'd known vaguely that Ta'agra didn't use either the Tamrielic or the Daedric alphabets, but figured that with both of them under my belt, my codebreaking skills, and the fact that I was fluent in the spoken language, I'd be able to figure it out easily enough given an example.

Studying the book now, I felt this had been something of a rash claim. The winding patterns looked very pretty. Decorative, in fact. The thing they did not look like was anything I could recognise as writing. I'd been expecting something more familiar – I couldn't even make out distinct letters.

"And here," Jobasha interrupted my worrying. "Jobasha apologises for the wait – his contacts said it was not easy to find. They also said they could not lay hands on an imbued one at all, which Jobasha also apologises for."

This second book was bound in leather much darker than Hazura's undyed hide, and it bore only a single sigil, a stylised eye embossed in a gleaming green metal my trained eye identified as orichalcum. The symbol of the Illusion school.

"Thank you so much," I told Jobasha as I took the tome. I wasn't surprised it had taken some time to find. Books like this, which described a specific spell well enough a reader with a basic foundation in magic could use them to learn it, were very uncommon in Morrowind at the best of times. Imbued books, which bound the knowledge magically so that the reader could pick them up near-instantly, were entirely unknown. I wasn't sure why – I'd always found both sorts very handy myself – but apparently people around here preferred to learn directly from a teacher.

This spell, of course, was one I'd rather not ask one of my guild-mates for. Although after my experiences on the island so far I thought I had genuine need of it, I figured it would still raise some rather unpleasant questions. Jobasha, of course, had all the discretion of a professional, never to mention that he already knew more than enough to destroy me should he ever desire to.

"How much do I owe you?" I asked Jobasha as I slipped both books into my bag.

"Hmm..." His whiskers twitched. "Jobasha feels he cannot, in good conscience, ask money for the Ta'agra book, as he expects to profit from it himself. For the other... one septim."

I didn't haggle, although I had to admit it hurt me to pass over a gleaming septim coin with no argument. But it wasn't as if he'd already had the book on the shelves. It had been a special request and he'd clearly gone to some effort to find it. Haggling would be disrespectful.

Jobasha gave me a steady nod as he took the coin. "I hope it treats you well."

Later that evening found me in the library, studying my new acquisition. Privacy, sadly, was rather hard to come by as an apprentice staying in the guild, especially on days when one of Edwinna's Dwemer excavation troops was in Ald'ruhn to give her their artifacts, deliver their reports, and (to my eternal regret) go celebrate their return to civilisation with lots and lots of drinking. Still, hardly anyone used the library this time of day, and there was a small table and chair tucked away behind the Theoretical Philosophy section which was invisible from the more frequently used areas. I'd used it before and it worked well enough.

And speaking of things being invisible...

I frowned down at the tome which was open in front of me. The description of the spell wasn't easy to follow, but my ability at minor illusions was serving as a better foundation than I'd expected and I thought I was ready for my first attempt.

Invisibility, I'd decided while crouching behind boxes in Arkngthand, would be an incredibly handy spell to know.

"Like an illusion, but build the magic up far more before you let it go," I muttered to myself as I got to my feet and moved into a casting position. "Then make sure it covers you completely, not a gap left..."

I concentrated. After a moment, green light flared-

The Breton woman was short, shorter than me, wearing a plain dress and apron with her dark hair piled in a complicated knot on top of her head. I wasn't the best with faces, but I felt reasonably sure I'd never seen her before. Those icy blue eyes would have stuck in my memory, I was certain.

"Can I help you?" I asked, making sure my body blocked the doorway. If I didn't know her, she had no business in the back rooms of the Skeever's Nest... nor, of course, in what they connected to.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Her voice was light and high-pitched, with a distinctive Daggerfall accent. Unfair as it was, it immediately grated on me. I didn't like being reminded of Daggerfall, and had gone to some effort to rid myself of my own accent years ago. "I didn't mean to interrupt, but the sign outside said you were looking for barmaids?"

I relaxed. Just a prospective employee for the public front, it seemed. Recent events had made me paranoid. "Of course. You'll want to speak to Hrednolf – stay here, I'll get him for you."

I turned to head back into the corridors. This time of day, Hrednolf should be in his office. He'd better be, I thought grumpily, because I didn't have time to chase him down. I was supposed to be meeting Charon and Ingerte right now, except that one of the junior members had grabbed me on the way gabbling about someone being at the door asking to speak to someone in charge. I'd have words for her, later – it should have been obvious that what had been meant was in charge of the inn, not-

A whisper of cloth from behind me.

"Oh, and by the way, Adryn?"

She knew my name.

I whirled, but too late, far too late, because the spell was already in flight.

Green light enveloped me. I tried to scream – the inn was packed, a single shout and my guildmates would come running – but to no avail. The spell was already threading its way through my limbs, around my throat, and my body refused to obey me.

The last thing I heard before the magicka reached my heart was, "It isn't wise to stand against the Thief-King."

The spell fizzled and died in my hands. My heart was beating as though it was trying to escape my chest, my hands were shaking, and I really, truly wanted to be sick.

Forcing down the bile took some work, but I refused, I absolutely refused to vomit in the library. I was in charge of my body and I said it was not going to throw up.

Exactly the way I hadn't been in charge of it when-

Blood on my hands-

"Stop it," I whispered. "Stop. It's over, it happened, there's no point in thinking about it-"

The second night bell had rung before I was calm enough to attempt the Invisibility spell again. A futile effort, it turned out. Even though I didn't have another flashback, the green light flaring around me immediately sent me jerking backwards, the structure of the spell lost in panic. I tried closing my eyes, but it didn't help. Apparently it was enough that I knew it was an Illusion spell I was casting. And the feathery feeling of the invisibility magic as it enveloped my body felt exactly the same as being hit by the spell, before it had-

Before I had-

I bit savagely on my lip and tried the spell again. This time, it fell apart almost immediately, not even reaching the point of producing light.

Eventually, I let myself drop to the floor beside the desk I'd been using. My hands were trembling faintly as I wiped at the cold sweat that beaded my forehead.

"Curse it," I whispered. "Curse it."

A hysterical giggle rose in my throat as I considered telling Edwinna that there were, in fact, not one but two schools of magic I was unable to wield effectively. My minor illusions didn't qualify – they were barely cantrips. One of the ways one could tell this was because they, unlike proper spells of the school, didn't come with the classic green light that characterised the Illusion school.

The green light that apparently now gave me actual panic attacks.

"Molag Bal take it-"

After a long moment, I pulled myself back to my feet, trying to squash down my turmoil as I did so.

So I wouldn't be able to learn the Invisibility spell after all. Well, it had been a long shot in the first place, since I didn't have much experience with the school and the spell would probably have been too advanced for me anyway. I'd just have to rely on other methods. Potions sprang to mind – there had to be a recipe that didn't involve ground diamond.

And as for my suspicion that my inability affected all major spells of the school? No matter, surely. True, Chameleon would also have been nice to know, but it wasn't as if I'd been planning on learning any of the others. I wouldn't inflict a Command spell on anyone if my life depended on it. That extended to all the other mind-altering spells as well. Charm, Calm, Frenzy, Rally... whatever the effect, I wasn't going to take away someone's free will like that.

After all, I knew what it was like.

It isn't wise to stand against the Thief-King.

I fought down a shudder.

At any rate, what was left? Night-Eye? I had good night vision, and there were always potions. And I wasn't an adventurer, was planning to stay well out of any situations that might require combat spells like Blind or Silence. No – I could do without the Illusion school.

Decided, I gathered up my belongings. The Invisibility tome went on top of the stack, to be returned to my cupboard and begin gathering dust. Maybe I'd ask Ajira or Jamie if they had any use for the thing. It'd be a shame for Jobasha's efforts to go to waste, after all. I suspected Jamie didn't have the skill required for the spell – a natural mage, she was definitely not – but if she managed it, surely it would come in useful. Or perhaps Ervesa...

Head full of plans, I left the library, doing my best to leave my past behind as I went.

*****


Notes: All credit to the Ta'agra project for the Ta'agra book title.


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SubRosa
post Feb 11 2020, 05:10 PM
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There is no sense holding on to trifles like murder accusations. smile.gif

Spell Tomes! yay!

That was a disturbing flashback to Daggerfall. Adryn has some serious PTSD.


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ghastley
post Feb 12 2020, 03:39 PM
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So red-light invisibility would work? Someone cast color-blindness on her, quick! biggrin.gif

Intriguing flashback, to what? And where?, when? ...? The Skeever made its appearance in TES V: Skyrim, so this isn't an in-game reference except possibly as a geographical clue. I'll have to wait for more.



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Kazaera
post Feb 16 2020, 05:29 PM
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@SubRosa - Adryn is a generous, forgiving soul. wink.gif Also, yep, really really traumatised. It's probably not always that obvious because she's really good at repressing, but, well... there's a reason she tries very hard not to think about her past, and it amounts to "she falls to pieces the instant she does". sad.gif

@ghastley - I like your pragmatic approach to things! biggrin.gif Unfortunately, Adryn hasn't thought that far.

Re: the flashback... hmm, I think to some extent this is a problem with my glacially slow writing speed, because I've actually scattered around a bunch of the puzzle pieces to this particular mystery, but it's hardly a surprise if by now the details of chapter 9 are not very present in readers' minds. But there'll be more pieces to come, although the part where I put them all together is still some ways off.

Last installment, Adryn tried to learn an Invisibility spell... tried, and failed. It seems she had a very unpleasant experience involving the Illusion school (in particular, the mind-altering part of it) in the past, and the resulting trauma makes it impossible for her to cast any of the major spells. Let's see where she's gone from there.

Chapter 19.8
*****


It wasn't long after my failed attempt at invisibility that Edwinna called me into her office.

"Thank you for coming, Adryn," she greeted me. "How's that report on the organisation of the Dwemer government coming along?"

"Pretty well, I think. I had trouble finding sources regarding the semi-independent city-states, but then I found a lot of useful information in Dreth's The Aetherium Wars..."

We chatted for a little longer about my latest research project before Edwinna got to the point.

"I have something I'd like you to take care of," she told me. "I'd handle it myself, but I've been so occupied with the latest excavation report from Nchuleftingth, I just don't have the time right now."

I paused, wary. This sounded suspiciously like a departure from my usual, guild-bound, distinctly non-life-threatening duties. They'd been a welcome change, and I wasn't at all eager to go back to what had preceded them.

"What were you thinking, exactly?"

"I need someone to pick up a potion from Skink-in-Tree's-Shade, in Sadrith Mora. I requested it a while ago, and he hasn't gotten back to me. I need it by the start of next week, so time is running short."

"A potion?" What kind of potion? And why not have Anarenen make it, or Ajira, instead of going all the way to the Sadrith Mora guild? Or me, for that matter?

Edwinna must have read my questions off my face. "It's a Detect Creatures potion, but capable of detecting Dwemer automata as well as living beings. We're going to start the initial investigation of Arkngthunch-Sturdumz next week, and it's always a huge help if we can get the rough number and location of active automata off the bat. Skink is the only one I know with the skill to brew the potion to the strength required €“ he was an alchemist before he made chapter head, you know." She gave me a stern look. "Which is not permission for you to pester him about the recipe. Skink is very busy, I'm lucky he even agreed to help."

"So... I just head out to the Sadrith Mora guild, get the potion, and come straight back?" I decided to verify. I was still rather wary of diverging from my routine but the whole thing sounded harmless enough, and who knew... of course I wouldn't pester the (I guessed from the name) Argonian, but if he happened to be in a sharing mood...

"Exactly," Edwinna confirmed. "You're free to refuse, of course €“ it's nothing to do with the Dwemer, after all."

I was still considering it when a thought occurred to me.

"I don't suppose I could do this tomorrow around noon?"

Edwinna blinked, looking a little confused. "Well, when exactly doesn't matter much to me, provided I have the potion before Mondas..."

"What I'm hearing," I interrupted her loudly, "is yes, Adryn, I need you to get the potion tomorrow at noon exactly. Which is fine, absolutely fine, and I'm delighted to take this task on, thank you very much, I'll have the potion for you by the end of the day." I shook her hand to seal the deal and turned to leave.

As I walked out the door, I heard Edwinna mutter, "I swear I understand apprentices less and less every year." My mind, however, had left the guildmistress in favour of contemplating the exact wording of the letter of apology I'd be sending to Athyn Sarethi in order to explain that I would not, after all, be able to make lunch tomorrow.

Sarethi had been very insistent on trying to meet with me again, and I'd been having an increasingly hard time coming up with scheduling conflicts to explain why I couldn't make it €“ hadn't been able to create one at all for lunch tomorrow, in fact. Edwinna's task was a real stroke of luck in that regard, one I was definitely not letting pass unused.

And at the end of the day, how hard could it be to pick up a potion?

*****
End of chapter


Notes: Since this was such a short segment, I won't leave you in suspense but do a double update... so you get to see the answer to Adryn's question immediately. ETA: Or not, because the forum insists on merging the two posts together! I'll try again later... or after someone else comments, so that the system will treat them as separate. Hint, hint wink.gif

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Feb 16 2020, 11:08 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 16 2020, 07:29 PM
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Hey, anything to help out a fellow writer!

Heh heh heh that Adryn is as sly as ever.

Though please refresh my memory, who is Athyn Sarethi and why is Adryn avoiding him? Is he the ungrateful bahsterd she rescued from a ruin quite some time ago? Or do I have that mixed up with someone else? huh.gif


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Kazaera
post Feb 16 2020, 08:23 PM
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@haute ecole rider - Thank you! Have the first part of Chapter 20. smile.gif

Athyn Sarethi is the father of Varvur Sarethi (kidnapped Redoran she inadvertently rescued via teleportation and can't be in the same room with without starting to argue). He's the one who rescued her when she was accused of murder, pointed out to her that she was actually a very altruistic person over lunch, then invited her to join Redoran. Adryn's avoiding him because... tbh, I think this makes more sense in Adryn's head than anywhere else; it's some combination of massive discomfort with the offer and class difference along with being upset about having someone strip away some of the lies she tells about herself.

Hope that helps!

Last chapter, after returning from Maar Gan with Jamie Adryn actually had a fairly relaxing time, mainly involving ingredient-gathering, research, learning Dunmeris and teaching Ta'agra. It's probably the most she's enjoyed her time on the island so far. That might be at end, given that Edwinna just asked her to pick up a potion from Skink-in-Trees'-Shade in Sadrith Mora. Although surely, Adryn can easily just do this and come back, right?

...right?

Chapter 20.1
*****


One week later found me in front of Edwinna's desk again. This time, the atmosphere was far less relaxed. In fact, Edwinna looked rather as if she were fighting a migraine.

"Adryn. It's good to see you." The reason I liked Edwinna was that even though the sight of me seemed to be causing her physical pain, she sounded perfectly sincere. "I'd appreciate it if you could explain the events of the past week from your perspective."

"Um." I shuffled my feet. This was distinctly unfair, I thought. I'd been planning on letting those events pass into blissful oblivion. "Are you sure you need to know?" Wait a moment. "What do you know, anyway?"

"Well," Edwinna said drily, "Just now, I received a message from Athyn Sarethi offering me his thanks and gratitude for a member of my guild aiding in the rescue of not just one but two members of Redoran who'd been held hostage by the Telvanni."

The silence stretched.

"Ah. Yes. That." I swallowed. "He's exaggerating mercilessly, you know. One of them really rescued themselves. I was more of an innocent bystander."

For some reason, this did not have the reassuring effect I'd hoped for. "Adryn, could you just-" Edwinna took a deep breath. "Let's start at the beginning. I'd asked you to pick up a potion from Skink-in-Trees'-Shade and come straight back. What happened?"

I supposed I couldn't get out of explaining.

*****


According to the Argonian head of the Sadrith Mora guild, he'd started the potion for Edwinna but it wasn't quite ready yet. Another hour, he said. It still needed to finish reducing, he said. Personally, I thought he'd forgotten about the thing entirely and was going to rush off to brew it, but decided to keep that theory to myself. Between Trebonius, Ranis Athrys and Blowfish, I was already on bad terms with far too many guild heads. Better not to add to that number.

"You may go back to Ald'ruhn and return, or wait here," Skink-in-Trees'-Shade suggested.

Faced with two bad choices, I fought down a grimace. Although - or perhaps because - I was allowed free transport as a guild member, I tried not to annoy the guild guides by using the service frivolously. I was quite certain Erranil would be less than impressed if I travelled between Ald'ruhn and Sadrith Mora four times in under two hours. On the other hand, the Sadrith Mora guild made the Caldera guild look luxuriously spacious. All the services were crammed into a single room, and there was no sign of private spaces such as dormitories or a kitchen at all. Nor, I couldn't help but notice, a chair where a visitor might sit and stretch out their legs.

"Or," Skink broke into my thoughts, "you could help me with a small matter."

"Oh?"

"There is a guild member, Tenyeminwe, staying at Dirty Muriel's Cornerclub. She wishes to travel to Vos for her research, but she is afraid to travel to the harbour alone and has asked for someone from the guild to accompany her. None of my people have the time, but if you are waiting anyway..."

I gave the Argonian a very suspicious glance. "Exactly why is she afraid to travel alone? What does she think will happen?" This sounded like bodyguard work, something I was (needless to say) absolutely not suited to. I'd had such a nice run of purely academic work in Ald'ruhn, I didn't feel like ruining it with another guild duty that required combat skills.

Skink let out a long hiss, head-frill flattening. "Paranoia. Tenyeminwe fears she has offended a Telvanni. I have made enquiries and know that the Telvanni in question left Sadrith Mora three days past. Tenyeminwe has not listened to this."

Uleni, who'd been quite obviously listening in, snorted loudly. "Afraid of her own shadow, that one. I don't know why on Nirn she thinks she needs an escort to walk a hundred yards in the middle of the city, but she doesn't want to pay the Fighter's Guild and all of us are too busy. You'll do it, Adryn, right? I'm getting tired of her hanging around."

*****


"So I let myself be persuaded despite my second thoughts." I decided not to mention that the persuasion might have involved a promise that Skink-in-Trees'-Shade would make a copy of the potion recipe for me. Edwinna had asked me not to bother him about it, but she couldn't possibly have expected me to truly ignore such a thing, and since he was asking a favour already...

"And to be fair," I continued, "we didn't run into any trouble on the way to the docks. However, when Tenyeminwe wanted to buy passage to Vos, we found something of a problem."

*****


"What do you mean, you're not sailing?" Tenyeminwe's voice was shrill. No wonder - our brief walk from the tavern had made it obvious that for all the Sadrith Mora mages dismissed it, her fear was quite real. How utterly panicked she'd been was obvious thanks to the fact that I'd noticed at all, given that I'd spent most of the walk gawking at Sadrith Mora architecture (had I ever called the buildings in Balmora organic? Or the ones in Ald'ruhn strange? How utterly ignorant I'd been, considering that the Telvanni used giant living mushrooms as their architectural medium).

The captain was unmoved by the Altmer's clear distress. "Just what I said. Not sailing. Bad omens."

Tenyeminwe inhaled. I looked at her face, decided that whatever she was about to say was unlikely to improve matters, and intervened.

"Good day to you, captain," I offered in my best Dunmeris. Then, switching back to Tamrielic, "Please excuse my companion, she wishes to go to Vos quite urgently. Could you tell us what sort of bad omens are keeping you from your journey?"

The woman gave me a nod far friendlier than anything she'd offered Tenyeminwe. Overall, plan Learn Dunmeris was meeting with great success even in this part of Vvardenfell.

"I stayed at the Gateway Inn. In the middle of the night, I was woken by a restless spirit. I offered it the Five Blessings, but it would not calm. I offered it salt, flame, and blood, but it only grew angrier." The woman touched her cheek. Three parallel scratches lay on it, as though something had clawed her.

"How ghastly!" whispered Tenyeminwe. Personally, I suspected her horror had more to do with the existence of an angry ghost than its behaviour. Mine did too, but I'd gathered enough about native Dunmer beliefs at this point to suspect that the captain's reaction had a different cause.

"Indeed," the woman said, although she shot Tenyeminwe an odd look. "It is clear that my ancestors are displeased. I must pray to discover why and beg their forgiveness. I will not cast off while this hangs over me."

Tenyeminwe gulped.

*****


"So I investigated," I explained. "The whole story smelled fishy to me, and it was clear that the woman wouldn't be sailing anywhere until we got it cleared up."

"Very diligent of you, especially considering none in the guild would have blamed you if you'd simply escorted Tenyeminwe back to where she was staying."

That thought had occurred to me. In all honesty, I might even have chosen to forego the promised potions recipe. However, there had been another matter that tipped the scales.

I'd suspected the woman would make quite the scene if forced to return unsuccessful. This would of course not have bothered me at all, except for the minor fact that quite a few of the patrons of the cornerclub had seemed... familiar. Not in person, but in nature. And then there had been the small symbol scratched into the wood of the doorframe, where I didn't know the meaning but could certainly guess it.

Having now run into a third of their lairs, I gathered that the Morrowind Thieves' Guild did much the same as we had in Windhelm, using taverns as fronts for the operation. It was enough to make you reconsider ever setting foot in a public house again. Thankfully, I was reasonably sure I'd managed to get Tenyeminwe and get out without attracting undue attention. However, I'd been far less sure of being able to do the same on a return journey, especially if I had a hysterical Altmer in tow.

Edwinna was still looking at me, eyebrow raised. Obviously, I couldn't tell her the truth.

"Oh, I felt bad for Tenyeminwe. And it still didn't seem like such a difficult thing to look into." I moved smoothly forward in my retelling, hoping Edwinna would forget about my unsatisfying reasons for getting involved. "It wasn't, in truth. I spoke to the innkeeper, and it became clear that the cause of the haunting was a Conjuration expert who thought playing pranks was an appropriate response to impoliteness."

Edwinna groaned. "Uleni."

"Exactly, any guild member could have told you who the culprit was at that point. I spoke to her and she agreed to stop." The fact that I'd been able to say, quite honestly, that Tenyeminwe would be staying in Sadrith Mora until the problem was solved, had probably gone a long way to make her willing.

Given relations between the Telvanni and the Mages' Guild, I decided Edwinna didn't need to know the fact that learning that a Conjuration expert was responsible had, in fact, required a trip to the Council Hall to speak to one of the high-ranking Telvanni there. And she certainly had better stay ignorant of the fact that when I went to report my success, another had caught my arm on the way out.

"Outlander," she'd whispered, "know that House Telvanni always welcomes those with talent and ambition. If you wish to join us, speak to the Mouths at the Council Hall." I obviously had no intention of taking up the invitation (honestly, as if Athyn Sarethi hadn't been bad enough!) but I still thought it might give the wrong impression.

"So," Edwinna said, looking rather bewildered, "you're saying nothing happened during the investigation. Then where do the Redoran come in?"

I winced. I'd hoped we could avoid this part of the tale.

"Well, after the whole thing was done with, I went to get Tenyeminwe..."

*****


Notes: Let me know how you like Adryn misadventures, flashback edition! I'm trying to work out a way to keep them around without bringing the plot to a standstill. (Pacing: not always my strong suit.)

This post has been edited by Kazaera: May 16 2020, 03:09 PM


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 17 2020, 12:20 AM
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Your flashback technique is working well. Separating them from the current events with a line of stars is as effective as my using italics for the past events when I've done flashbacks. Interweaving past and present as you have done grounds us in the present, while giving us details on what happened in the past as if we were flies on the wall, so to speak.

May I say Adryn continues to make me chuckle with her black humor and wry commentary? Wonderful!


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SubRosa
post Feb 19 2020, 06:05 PM
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A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...

Tenyeminwe and Dirty Muriel's! I used her name for an Ayleid Queen in the Teresa fic.

Oh boy, one thing leads to another! I love how you pile up difficulty on top of difficulty. I really enjoyed this flashback. So keep them coming.


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ghastley
post Feb 19 2020, 06:13 PM
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Yup, that was Morrowind's forte. If you pleased one faction, you inevitably angered another, and you often needed to be part of both.

That, and complicating every simple fetch quest with side-effects. Adryn does have a penchant for finding new ones of her own, too. biggrin.gif


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Kazaera
post Feb 23 2020, 11:04 AM
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@haute ecole rider - good to hear it's working! I really ran headfirst into the issue where I love writing Adryn's misadventures but they often end up bringing the plot to a standstill; this was my compromise.

@SubRosa - Tenyeminwe would no doubt be pleased to hear that! It is a very royal-sounding name, isn't it? Alas, here she's a rather nervous mage who... probably doesn't actually deserve what's about to happen to her.

@ghastley - yeah, faction balance was a definite thing. (I still remember being sooo weirded out when my Temple/Redoran character resulted in the Ordinators suddenly being polite.) And it is entirely possible the side-effects have only just started...

Last installment found Adryn back in Ald'ruhn, forced to explain to Edwinna exactly how wrong this particular fetch quest had gone. Latest we heard, she was attempting to get a scared guild member passage to Vos, which so far had involved solving a local haunting which had turned out to be caused by a fellow guild member (and, incidentally, being invited to join House Telvanni along the way, not that she's planning to share that). Let's see what else can happen to keep Adryn from getting the potion she came for and just hightailing it back to Ald'ruhn! biggrin.gif

Chapter 20.2
*****


Tenyeminwe had flatly refused to accompany me on my investigations. Probably for the best, since I suspected she'd have fainted on being asked to enter the Telvanni Council Chamber. (Which wasn't meant as an insult. I'd almost fainted.) However, I couldn't very well ask her to stay standing at the docks, the ghost-ridden captain didn't want her on board until her haunting was dealt with, and taking her back to the corner club was not an option. I silently cursed Skink for sending me in there, and was planning to give it a wide berth from now on.

Instead, I'd found a small eatery on the northern side of town that had outside seating beneath spanned tarps, with enchanted stones set in the ground at regular intervals providing warmth despite the chill of the day. Seated at a table just next to the stalk of the mushroom-tower and beside one of the heat-stones, Tenyeminwe was nearly hidden from the street and, I'd thought, able to await the result of my investigation in comfort. Approaching now, I noticed the Altmer's face was pale and her eyes darted around. Whatever Skink said about Tenyeminwe having nothing to worry about, one only had to take a look at her to see that the woman was genuinely afraid.

"Well?" she asked when I came up to her, tone snappish.

"Everything sorted," I told her. "It was a... prank, of sorts. The offender won't do it again, and I think I managed to convince the captain the whole thing had nothing to do with her ancestors being displeased. She's willing to leave dock again, at least." I decided that I probably shouldn't let Tenyeminwe in on the identity of the culprit. Her expression promised pain to the person who'd inadvertently delayed her.

Alas for guild harmony, Tenyeminwe had clearly spent enough time in Sadrith Mora to be familiar with all the guild members. "Uleni," she spat, golden eyes narrowed. "That thoughtless, juvenile little ayamindel. I should..." She shook her head as though trying to shake off her anger. "No. Never mind. It's not important. You say the captain is willing to sail to Vos?"

"Yes. Come on, I'll bring you to the docks." And then, I added silently, finally pick up the potion from Skink and get transport back to the Ald'ruhn guild. This whole thing had lasted rather longer and involved more detective work and close contact with Telvanni than I'd really planned on.

Tenyeminwe grew even more tense when we were on the streets, to the point where I was relatively sure that if I poked her she'd jump straight out of her skin. (After once again considering guild harmony, I decided not to test that theory.) "I will be so glad," she said with a shudder, "once I'm out of this horrible city. I don't think I'll ever get the smell of fungus out of my clothes."

Altmer are a strange lot. They have a reputation for arrogance which can be unfair – I've certainly met friendly, not at all stuck-up High Elves. However, even the easygoing ones often have a certain... blind spot, shall we say, regarding the time and place to share certain opinions. My theory is that it's a cultural difference regarding the value of honesty. Perhaps it's possible to wander through Lillandril loudly talking about how terrible the architecture is, how ugly the decorations, how foul the air, and the natives will simply take it as given. (It was probably a good thing for my health that I'd never gotten the chance to test this.)

If so, this trait was definitely not one the Dunmer had inherited from the Aldmer, because I could see heads turning and scowls growing at Tenyeminwe's declaration. I winced.

"Well," I said loudly, "I for one think it's very impressive. And you can barely smell the fungus at all."

Strangely, the glares did not subside at this declaration.

I was so busy worrying about whether we were about to become a cautionary tale for visitors to Sadrith Mora – oh, those two outlanders, we never saw them again – that I entirely forgot to keep an eye on Tenyeminwe. I realised this was a mistake when her hand wrapped around my arm with such force that I could already feel bruises forming.

"Hey!"

"Shhh! This way!"

I found myself summarily dragged into the nearest building.

"I feel the need to point out that this isn't the way to the docks," I said as I was towed.

Tenyeminwe didn't answer until the door had closed behind us. Then she turned back to me. The lighting in here was strange, flickering greenish mage-lights that threw dancing shadows over everything, but even with that I could tell she was ghastly pale.

"It's him," she hissed at me. Clearly my blank stare was also visible through the lighting, because she narrowed her eyes and spat out, "Madalas! The Telvanni who's after me!"

Not in Sadrith Mora, hmm? I'd have words with Skink-in-Trees'-Shade when we next spoke.

I tried thieves' logic. "Has it occurred to you that if we'd just kept quietly walking, he might have overlooked us, whereas he's almost certainly noticed you panic and run for..." I looked around.

I hadn't paid attention to where we were, and had thought Tenyeminwe had made for one of the many little mushroom-pods holding small shops that dotted the street. However, the hall we were in right now was far too large for that – would have been able to hold three of those fungus houses with room to spare. And this wasn't all there was to the building, judging by the spiral stairs cut into a root at the center of the hall, or the round corridors leading off from the sides.

There were, in fact, only two buildings on the island that could have held this entrance chamber, and I'd already seen the Telvanni Council Hall.

"...for Tel Naga," I groaned.

*****


"Ah. I see." Edwinna paused. "How... unfortunate."

"I admire your talent for understatement." I rubbed at my temples. Edwinna's incipient headache was apparently contagious, or perhaps it was simply being forced to relieve this memory, but either way one was definitely building. It was, thankfully, a dull throb rather than the sharp stabbing pain I'd somehow become prone to of late, but I'd like to hold it off all the same.

"You must have run into trouble. I can't believe Master Neloth would be particularly patient with uninvited guests."

"At first, surprisingly enough, no – everyone left us alone. I thought about it and decided that the guards must have assumed we were meant to be there, because nobody would be so indescribably stupid as to wander around a Telvanni mage-lord's tower without permission, right?"

This line of argument (repeated at length in ever greater detail and increasing volume) hadn't made much impression on Tenyeminwe at the time. In fact, she'd flatly ignored me in favour of claiming we needed to make our way even further into the building in order to hide. Edwinna, however, blanched.

"I... take your point. So what happened after 'at first'?"

"Well," I said mournfully, "then the first Redoran showed up."

*****


If it was luck that had let us remain unaccosted so far, it had just run out. Because the next guard we saw stopped short when he saw us. Worse, he grasped the hilt of his sword, armour clattering.

"What's this, then. More spies?"

The words were Dunmeris, the accent unfamiliar but I understood him well enough. Beside me, Tenyeminwe made a puzzled noise, clearly unable to say the same. I very quietly thanked my lessons and the smattering of truly odd vocabulary I'd picked up from my independent studies. This situation, I felt, would not be improved by me not understanding the word spy.

"Ah- a good day to you," I replied in the same language. Alas, this did not improve the man's disposition. If anything, the anger radiating off him deepened. I didn't know how to feel about plan learn Dunmeris letting me down like this. "We're not spies, we're lost-"

Wait, had he said more spies?

My eyes slid past the guard to focus on- yes, there was someone standing behind him. A Dunmer girl in plain, ragged clothes with crimson hair, probably a few years younger than me, glaring at the guard fiercely. Her wrists were bound, with a magicka-draining cuff clasped around one of them...

My eyes narrowed. Something about the knots wasn't right.

The guard shot us a contemptuous look. "Very funny, n'wah. As-" The words that followed blurred together into incomprehensibility (why did they have to speak so cursed quickly?) but I was fairly sure I could guess at their meaning: given that we were not supposed to be in Tel Naga in the first place, what else could we be?

I was silently cursing Tenyeminwe when the captive drove all thought of how we'd gotten here out of my mind. In the course of accusing us of espionage, the guard had turned his back on her, and this proved to be a mistake when she sprang into motion.

For a moment, my vision blurred and I found myself transported back in time to Vivec. Another guard berating me – another crimson-haired woman taking advantage of his distraction –

Thankfully, this time the attacker proved far less murderous. When the flurry of motion died down there was no blood anywhere, and although the guard was lying flat on the ground I could see his breath stir strands of hair that had fallen across his face.

A whimper came from behind me. I guessed Tenyeminwe was not particularly keen on this turn of events.

"Thank you for distracting him, outlanders," the girl said briskly (in Tamrielic, thank the Nine). "He wasn't giving me an opening, and I wasn't looking forward to having to escape from my cell a second time."

I looked at her. Looked at the unconscious guard. Looked back at her.

"Can someone please explain to me what just happened?"

"Certainly! I'm Nartise Arobar, daughter of Miner Arobar. The Redoran Councillor," she added in a condescending voice in response to the blank look that must have been on my face. "I was... looking for something in Tel Naga, but I got captured. They were going to use me to blackmail my father. I didn't much care for it." She shrugged. "You're clearly not Telvanni, so you're going to help me escape Sadrith Mora now."

The words were spoken like a pronouncement: this was the way Nartise had decided the world would be, so it had better follow suit. My stomach sank.

*****


"See, like I said, she rescued herself. I had nothing to do with it. I protested quite strongly when she dragged us along, in fact."

"I'm sure you did, Adryn." At least Edwinna sounded sympathetic. "Although I have to admit, I still don't understand how you ended up at Tel Fyr."

"Ancestors, don't remind me." I buried my face in my hands.

*****


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ghastley
post Feb 23 2020, 02:06 PM
Post #458


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QUOTE
"Although I have to admit, I still don't understand how you ended up at Tel Fyr."

Does anybody? I could never find the way there when it was my intended destination.


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haute ecole rider
post Feb 23 2020, 06:54 PM
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QUOTE(ghastley @ Feb 23 2020, 07:06 AM) *

QUOTE
"Although I have to admit, I still don't understand how you ended up at Tel Fyr."

Does anybody? I could never find the way there when it was my intended destination.


Isn't that always the case? laugh.gif


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SubRosa
post Feb 24 2020, 01:11 PM
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I am starting to see why someone might have it in for Tenyeminwe. She has a habit of not thinking about what she is saying, or who she is saying it within earshot of.

"and you can barely smell the fungus at all."
laugh.gif

Only Adryn could fail up so well that she could accidentally, heroically come to the rescue. This is a lovely comedy of errors.




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