| A New Sun Rises - Maxical's Adventures
, The Truth Behind The Oblivion Crisis
Mar 22 2010, 02:43 AM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
A New Sun Rises
This story covers the daily events in the two years leading up to the Oblivion Crisis. It begins following the life of a semi-typical Khajiit girl who inadvertently finds herself the pawn of a powerful necromancer just as factions and forces begin moving into position.
When motivations are revealed it drives out the secrets of forgotten pasts, and another Khajiit girl whose life was an intertwined mirror of her own till both were altered irrevocably by the same necromancer in whose power they both found themselves.
The diverse paths their lives took merge once again in an explosive revelation that leaves one wondering how much of her skills and personality were ever her own; the other in a desperate struggle to keep control of her life, keep from being used against the Emperor as the crisis that will change Cyrodiil and the rule of Tamriel forever begins.
Sun's Dusk ( 3rd Era, year 432 )
15 years after her parent's deaths
Fate is an invincible enemy in a battle you’ll never leave unscathed. It stalks you as prey and strikes regardless of shields or armor. The gods and other realms can find entertainment in manipulating your path on a whim; or ancient vampires dabble with your life, alter your mind without you even knowing it. Sometimes you don‘t find out till it is too late.
I’d like to blame the gods for where I found myself, but the truth is that somewhere between the void and the Dreamsleeve lies fate; a place where time and space meet; where even the blackness of the void doesn’t reach, and the gods make wagers on the outcome of lives caught in the ‘tween.
Wedged into that fold are damned souls, souls that have been marked for paths they can’t change, to destinies they can’t escape. Ancient vampire's eyes see them as beacons, follow them as scents, control their minds without their ever knowing.
They are targets for revenge of an enemy they don't even know exists, pawns in a game they didn't even know was being played; whose contestants their worst nightmares couldn‘t envision.
That’s where I found myself fifteen years after the game started. That was the day I found out that everything I’d ever known about myself had always been…her. Amiela.
Amiela was a 137 years old demon of a vampire that thrived on destruction and usurped whatever she could from others. She died a century before I was born, but the wars being fought over her didn‘t end with her death. Her soul was marked…and inside me.
For me, fate was my parents bringing me through the heavy forested area of the Gold Road just outside Skingrad at the same time the second worst necromancer of our time was in a battle for the soul of Amiela. And there I was, a convenient hiding spot.
That was the day my parents died. All I ever knew of them was where they died and what killed them. I was twenty years old before I even learned my mother's name. I was twenty years old before I remembered Nisaba. Nissy.
Nissy’s beginning didn’t just match mine, it was mine; though neither of us knew it before we’d both turned twenty years old. That was the year our paths crossed again and we learned the only scraps of our histories anyone was ever able to recover. That's when we learned our destinies were intertwined long before our lives began.
Nissy and I were born within a month of each other in the year 412, both born in the 'no-man's' land of wild mountain passes between Vvardenfell and Cyrodiil. Our parents were traveling together and we were born en route, but our histories began long before that.
From early childhood our parents were owned by Hlormaren, a Dunmer Stronghold on the Bitter Coast of Vvardenfell. Before that they were housed in the same children's slave pen on the mainland. Maybe our histories began long before that, but that was the furthest back any information went that we were able to find.
Nissy’s mother died giving birth to her. Her father dropped her off at the Imperial Legion Orphanage for the un-adoptable when she was two. Three years later a Legionnaire dropped me off there when my parents were killed in a minotaur attack.
Fate once again found Nissy and me four years later in the middle of the night, right there in our room at that orphanage. We were both nine years old when our destinies were wrenched into the hands of the worst necromancer Tamriel has known since the King of Worms. Both of us have been in his power in one way or another since. Dagoth-Malan.
That was eleven years ago, eleven years that Nissy waited for me to keep a promise to save her...eleven years that all my memories of her were stolen by Dagoth-Malan so I couldn’t keep that vow. Until fate brought us together again when we both turned twenty.
Nissy and me, we were both in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fate.
** The Beginning **
Where Memories Begin And End
Legion Office, Imperial City
3rd Era, year 417 (memories of events that occurred when Maxical was five years old)
The earliest memory of my lifetime begins and ends in the Legion headquarters in the Imperial City. I’ve never been able to remember a single moment of my life before finding myself in that office.
It was a coming awake. A dark void of nothingness, and then in a blink my eyes were open and there I stood in that office with no idea where I was or how I got there.
An odd putrid odor I couldn't name seemed to be clinging inside my nostrils and roiling my stomach, even the pungent stench of sweat emanating from the large man behind the desk was a welcome relief in comparison.
There was an odd feeling of having forgotten something important that niggled irritatingly, a barb that probed against my mind to remember, but there was nothing to answer its incessant prodding. Nothing. It was like a journey through a maze with only dead ends at every turn. I didn't know where I had come from, where I belonged, or who I belonged to.
At first I barely understood what they were saying; strange sounding words spoken so harshly and rapidly that it was impossible to grasp even one to decipher. They couldn’t understand me at all when I spoke.
Somewhere deep inside me in a place as unconnected to me as the lost memories of my life before that office there was the oddest sensation; a stirring, as if that part of me was just now waking. Suddenly their words were striking a chord of recognition It almost felt as if I could speak their tongue, but when my mouth opened the words still came out in the only language I knew.
The large sweaty man behind the desk pointed at me. "What is that?"
"Don't know, only that it's the get of some beasts killed by a minotaur up on the big curve of the Gold Road in County Skingrad. Couldn't tell what they were either. The mother was a bloody mess; but the male...fur black as coal soot, and the same flattened face as that one's." He indicated my face, then added, "Too big for a cat, never seen anything like him. Both bore slave tattoos so they can't be from Cyrodiil. No travel papers or identification on either body."
The large sweating man's chair groaned loudly as he leaned over and gave me an intrusive and extended eyeing. "That ain't no Khajiit, not with that white coloring. That face gives me the creeps, you said the male looked the same? This one must be an albino then. No telling what you'll find in those other Provinces, all barbarians." He spat a large wad of brown cud into the urn beside him.
"The male had been looted; they even took his clothes, naked as a jaybird he was. Found this in the brush near the female's body." He held out a blood spattered travel pack. "When I moved her body this silver dagger was underneath her, and this gold locket fell off her neck. Chain was broken, likely in the attack."
The rotund man tossed him a cloth to wrap the items in, then pointed at me. "How old do you think it is?"
"Too small to be very old. Can't be much more than a couple years. It walks well enough, though. And mark it as female, it squatted to relieve itself on the way here."
"Two year old female." The large man wrote something down.
"And a bad tempered one at that. She scratched me up good trying to get her on the horse." That was met with raucous laughter from the men gathered.
"It's that red hair!" Someone called.
The mocking laughter and insulting treatment I understood without the help of that strange place within me that seemed to know this language. I didn't know anything about myself or how I got here, I was confused and up till that moment terrified. But at that moment I learned that I had a temper. I could feel it building inside me like a fire about to go out of control.
In my rage I nearly missed that their odd contortions and rudimentary gestures to communicate were attempts to get my name. My name. That would be important to find out who I was.
“Ma'Thjizzrini Qa.” A girls voice squealed from behind me. I turned to see a Khajiit girl in the doorway staring at me wide eyed.
"Ma'Thjizzrini Qa!" She started running toward me, but one of the armored men grabbed her and pushed her back out the door.
As soon as she said it I knew that was my name, it struck a familiar chord immediately. I repeated it, imitating their miming gestures by pointing to my chest. “Ma'Thjizzrini Qa.”
"Name, Maxical." The rotund man wrote something down, then stamped his seal on the document.
They said I was found beside my parents, was there when they were killed. I didn't remember any of it. It felt like they talked abstractly about strangers. The greatest shock for me that day and so many days since was that I didn't even know my mother's name; wasn't able to bring an image of her to my mind, or even a glimpse of a moment with her or the sound of her voice. It was like she disappeared into the void, taking every remembrance of her.
That day in the Legion office though, that I will never forget. The smell of pipe smoke and tobacco, male sweat and steel; those odors bring back the memory of that day as if it was still alive within me, still happening to me.
It has stayed fresh in my mind all these years; but not because I wanted to remember it. It was that haunting memory that was just out of grasp beyond it, the sheer number of times I’d come to that stopping point in my memory and tried to force beyond it to find something, anything of who I was; of my life before that Legion office. Of my mother.
That day, those men staring at me as if I were an insect as they tried to determine what I was, what I was saying...what to do with me. All through it my mind burned with trying to figure out who I was and how I got there. I'll never forget that day.
*******This post has been edited by mALX: Oct 15 2013, 09:33 AM
Mar 22 2010, 06:25 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
@ Acadian - Sheeeees Baaaaack! Thank you so much Acadian! You ROCK !!
@ Zalphon - Thank you Zalphon! She had to come, it was inevitable. You can blame Winter Wolf, who hinted me into it, lol.
@ Winter Wolf - Thank you very much Wolf, and I want you to know it was your hints that brought her here!!! I wasn't going to do it, but you got me missing her too badly, lol. Thank you Wolf !!!! You ROCK !!!!
@ Destri Melarg - Thank you so much Destri! I just hope she can keep her old friends, but if she makes new ones - so much the better! Thanks again Destri!
@ Treydog - (Houston, we have a problem?) - are you equating Maxical to trouble? ROFL !!! Thank you so very much Treydog!!!!
Memories of the orphanage; 3rd Era, years 417 - 421Chapter 1: The Imperial Orphanage For The Un-adoptable
I learned later that the Legion had listed me as “Two year old female, albino beast of unknown race.“
The Legion made their regulated period of attempts to find an adoptive home for me before I was transferred to the orphanage in the Imperial City Prison Compound. That’s where orphans considered “un-adoptable” were sent.
All the beast races end there, or any human too old to be considered cute. I wasn’t cute, and that “unknown albino beast” stamp on my papers would have scared off anyone who might have thought I was. They could have placed a mudcrab before I would have found a home with that label.
There was a certain look they'd get on their faces before slamming the door, a look I'll never forget. You don't have to understand the language to know rejection when you see it.
The Legion may not have known what race I was, but their attempts to place me are how I discovered that (despite the lack of a kingly snout or thick rug of fur) I was Khajiit. I spoke their language, and understood them instantly. Those were the worst rejections, maybe because I did understand what they were saying.
It was from them I learned that to superstitious Khajiit an albino is considered a jinx. My white fur frightened them. Even walking down the street Khajiit would cross to the other side, chanting “Vaba” under their breath to ward my ill spirit off them. Translated literally it means, “It is;” but when spoken by itself it means “Bad omen.”
I've never known why I looked different than other Khajiit, but growing up I hated being different. I remember as a child rubbing dirt into my fur in an attempt to look like them, to look normal.
Back then it was devastating to know I was hated by what should have been my own people. Looking back now, maybe they were right; because bad luck seems to have touched a lot of lives connected to mine.
Years later while eavesdropping I learned that Ma'Thjizzrini Qa roughly translated means "What the hell did we do to deserve this child." From that point on, I was glad that for all intents and purposes my name was legally changed on the day of my parent's death. I never used my given name again, and only those closest to me know it.
I’m not going to say that didn’t hurt at the time, it did. Eventually anger carried me through that kind of pain; but below the surface, deep inside me the scars remain of that time. Then you eavesdrop at the wrong time and learn the meaning of your given name.
Maybe it distorted my perspective, but sometimes when you hear that kind of label you begin to believe it is true. You either live up to it or get angry. I did both.
The Imperial Orphanage For The Un-adoptable. The name alone strips everything from you, disintegrates hope that your life will ever be any different than it is right now walking through those gates. A chill of fear shivered over me as the gate thud shut and the bars clanged across behind me.
In front of me were cold gray stone walls lined with barred windows. In several were grimy bleak faces peering out. Prisoners. On my left the upper windows weren't barred. No curtains hung, but children were peering out as I was led in. Their expressions were the same bleak hopelessness as the prisoner's, and their faces were just as grimy.
Those gates sealed out all hope of having a life, a family; I could see that in both the children's and prisoner's eyes, and feel it looking at those high sheer walls. They blocked any view that might fuel dreams of a different life.
In this place the orphans were labeled and sentenced just like the prisoners, they shared an identity with them. The apathy and resignation was tangible from both. They'd stopped caring because nothing they did good or bad mattered once those gates sealed shut; they were here till their sentence ended. For us orphans that was when we turned eighteen.
Most ended returning here on the prison side of the compound for stealing food to survive, unable to find work with no skill training. For some the crime was a means to get back here to the only place they understood...the only people that understood them.
What I learned rapidly about being an orphan here at the Compound, they are tightly bound to each other as a family once you are accepted into their fold. They take care of their own. There was a regular swiping of food that was carried out in midnight stealth missions to any of our orphans that ended up on the prison side.
Getting accepted by the Compound orphans was nearly impossible when I first arrived. Not speaking Cyrodiilic didn't help. There was a hierarchy, and beasts were at the bottom of it. Beasts that were also freakishly different than the rest of their race rated even lower than that. Friends didn't come easily at first.
The exception to that was the Khajiit girl that came into the Legion office that day, Nisaba. She very quickly became my dearest friend. Nissy spoke in my tongue, Ta'agra; and was the only one there who understood me when I first arrived. Somewhere deep inside me the Cyrodiilic resonated familiarly, and with Nissy's help I learned to speak it quickly. ***
Nissy either had an amazing memory or was great at making up stories. Although she'd only been a little over two years old at the time, Nissy remembered her own father dropping her off at the orphanage. She said it was a day she would never forget, and planned to search for her father when she was released from the orphanage. She never said what she'd do when she found him.
Nissy also said she remembered me; that we'd been raised like sisters by my mother because her mother had died birthing her. She only had scanty and limited glimpses of memories of my mother, but remembered she and I had shared a straw bed on the floor of a cave; and remembered us playing and tumbling with each other in the grass outside the cave entrance while my mother washed clothes and dishes in the nearby river.
I didn't remember Nissy, or any of the glimpses of memories she shared. She may have been making it up. A lot of us in the orphanage played that game, so badly wanting a family to claim as theirs, one that wouldn't drop you off here and walk away. l did, wanted it so desperately that I clung to Nissy's imagined memories.
"Tell me everything you can remember about my mother, what was she like?"
"Ma'Thjizzrini Qa, how can you have forgotten?"
"I don't know, Nissy. I don't remember anything, not even what my mother looks like."
"Well, all I remember is that she had yellow eyes, and long hair the color of strawberries and wheat."
"What color is that?"
"I don't know, you'll know it if you see it. She cried the day Papa took me away to bring me here, so did you."
I struggled to believe it, wanted badly to believe it. Something to say I did have a life before that Legion office. What convinced me more than anything was that she had recognized me, knew my name that day in the Legion office. I don't look like any other Khajiit on Nirn. I prodded her to tell me everything she could about it.
"Why did he take you away?"
"There was a row, your father and mine were yelling about something. Then my father took me away and brought me here."
"What were they fighting about?"
"I don't know. Papa said your father's soul was as black as his fur." Nissy's face puckered with the memory.
"My father was a black Khajiit?"
"He was black as the night, I can't believe you don't remember him, Ma'Thjizzrini Qa."
I had a sudden memory of the men in that Legion office saying something about a man with fur as black as coal. That moment was the first time I realized that it really was my parents they'd been discussing that day.
The shield of abstractness was shattered, taking with it any lingering belief that by some horrible mistake I'd been in the company of two strangers that day; the hope that my real parents would come for me soon. That was the moment I realized that I was really an orphan. Inside myself it felt like that front gate to the Compound thudding shut again.***
Knowing my parents were really dead made me that much more desperate to learn all I could of them.
"Tell me about my father."
"He was huge, much bigger than Papa. I remember being scared of him, thought he was a giant. He never smiled, and had a way of looking at everyone that made my insides feel like we'd better obey him."
"What was his name?"
"Uncle S'Van...Uncle S'Vandera...I can't remember."
"What about my mother, what was her name?"
Nissy shrugged. "Maman is all I know. We both called her that."
Nissy and I did become as close as sisters after that. Even after she'd told me every memory she had of that time I continued to hound her to keep repeating it, and absorbed everything she said in hopes it would jog my own memories. It never did.
It was many months before my Cyrodiilic was understandable enough that the other orphans were beginning to talk to me, months of belief in Nissy's stories before they were shattered.
"You idiot, can't you count to two?" One of the older Altmer girls held up her hand with two fingers sticking up. "You see my fingers? This is how old you are. Nissy has been at the Compound three years, since before you were even born. She couldn't have known you on the outside, she is lying to you."
"But she knew things they said in that office."
"Everyone here does. We all know about a minotaur killing your parents, and your temper."
"Eavesdropping, idiot. Nothing is secret in this place."
I was crushed. Maybe I should have known all along it couldn't be true. I never told Nissy I knew it was a lie, but never asked her about my parents again after that.
It was hard to be mad at Nissy for those stories when they gave me the thing I wanted more than anything on Nirn, to know I existed before that day in the Legion office. I wanted to believe it all as badly as she wanted a family to cling to. We both needed each other. I couldn't have endured living at the orphanage without her.
*This post has been edited by mALX: Aug 3 2013, 09:47 AM
Mar 22 2010, 07:26 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
Memories of the orphanage; 3rd Era, years 417 - 421Chapter 2: The Compound
Being housed in the same compound with the Legion headquarters meant there was very little we were allowed to do. The boredom would have been excruciating if the prisoners hadn't been more than willing to teach us how to get around restrictions.
If there was nothing else an orphan learned at the Compound, they learned to pick locks and sneak past the hundreds of guards stationed there. Eavesdropping was a big part of our lives, especially in the dorm areas where the guards lived. What we overheard in there was usually forbidden knowledge, which made it much more interesting even if I didn't understand what it meant.
New orphans were tested by dares to pull pranks on the Legion. Tell-tales and chickens were shunned and ostracized. For me to be accepted, I had to take those dares that no one else would. I invariably got caught, usually through clumsiness or because I'm accident prone and left a trail of damage. I stayed in trouble, but it was the way I finally became accepted into their tight-knit family and began making friends there.
At that time the Elder Council was meeting in the east wing of the Compound. Very few dared pull pranks in the Elder Council chambers. I had to, being at the bottom rung of the hierarchy. I actually learned a lot eavesdropping there. The lawyers coached the prisoner in how to act and what to say to help argue their defense.
The first prank in the Elder Chambers was simply tying the lawyer's shoe laces together so they tripped when they rose from their bench. I crept in on my belly, sliding under the benches to the front.
It was easily done. I would never have been caught had I not stayed to see what would happen. I had my legs switched with a sapling branch for it, but when I limped back to our floor crying the others cheered and wanted to hear every detail of the mission. Someone had swiped a sack of sweetrolls from the kitchen and let me have the first pick. After that I never backed down from a dare.
The lawyers found frogs in their satchels and mice in their pockets. A shipment of alcohol for Commander Phillida came up short by several bottles. One of the boys handed me the missing bottles and dared me to fill it in the Council Chambers water pitchers, but didn't say which ones. I ran out of alcohol before getting to the Elder's table. All the defendants were falling down drunk by the time they were called up for their cases to be heard.
I'd started running from the whippings, making them catch me first. With all the guards around the Compound it never took long, but the others began cheering me on. My legs stayed raw from the whippings, but I took them without ever naming accomplices. I even took whippings for three pranks I hadn't pulled, although I was along to watch on all three. That earned my acceptance into the close-knit family structure of the orphans at the Compound.
The boys tarred the guard's dorm floor, and flooded the solitary confinement cell so when they opened it to put a prisoner in the Jailer would get drenched. The boys also strung a bucket of water over the door to the Elder Chambers so the Elders got doused entering.
I took the punishment for them because the older boys were whipped much worse than a girl my size and age would be. Some of the boys had stripe scars on their backs from whippings they'd gotten. ***
The prisoners began thinking up pranks for us. One of their ideas was to put the spike sticks they used to control unruly prisoners in the Elder Council chairs. The spike sticks are hollow needles with a tiny bit of potion in them. They combine calming and paralysis. The Chambers sessions had to be cancelled that day.
A Dunmer on the row marked for death suggested that raw goats stomachs made a loud poop sound when you sat on them. The boys swiped some from the kitchen and helped me to put them in the Elder Council and Judge's seats. We slit the cloth of the seat and pulled the wadding out, then slid the stomachs in below the cloth cover.
I wasn't the only one that hid in the Council Chambers to see the pompous Elders in their stiff robes loudly farting as they sat down. They were in a rage.
That was the last session of the Elder Council to meet at the Compound. The entire Council moved to the Palace immediately after that incident. Prisoners that had hearings scheduled were moved to the Palace prison. The dares for pranks went back to targeting the Legion.
Commander Phillida became involved in my punishments when he and Hieronymus Lex woke up to find beards made of smeared bootblacking on their faces and a good sized hunk of hair missing from the top of their heads. By then I was already immediately the first suspect called in whenever any prank was pulled. His punishments were much more severe. Worse, his face would redden with rage, it was frightening. I only accepted two more dares against him.
The first was the live slaughterfish that Commander Phillida found swimming in his bath when he stepped into it. The second, on Saturalia Commander Phillida's expensive private wine collection disappeared. Each prisoner got a bottle of it as a Saturalia present.
What ended being one of my last pranks at the Compound was a mass bedwetting; dipping the Legion's hands in warm water while they slept. We all participated. The night shift dorms should have been empty at that hour, I was just slipping through to access the unguarded door below it. I was well into the room before I realized Hieronymus Lex was sleeping in there. His arms were wrapped around someone I recognized as a young guard of the South Watch.
I carefully positioned the warm water below his dangling hand and raised the bowl, submerging the hand. The sound of his bladder releasing was immediately followed by a yelp from his companion.
"WHAT THE HELL? You just pissed on me!"
Smothered giggles burst from the corridor, followed by running feet as the orphans that had heard scurried away before getting caught. I ran, but not before I caught the look of hatred on Lex's face. He'd seen me.
Those first years at the orphanage it felt like a battlegrounds was taking place within me; like fragments of magic bounced off each other and acted as catalysts on everything they touched. It left me feeling jittery and nervous, and was the cause of a lot of my accidents, or at least I thought it was.
Whenever I was at my weakest, I could feel it gaining in strength inside me. Sometimes it felt so strong that I was afraid I might combust spontaneously. Those times it overwhelmed, I could feel a severing of something inside me, a disconnect of...myself. It was as if I watched myself from the void while my body moved and talked without my control.
Realizing my parents had really died, and later learning Nissy had lied to me about them; those weakened everything in me. In those moments somewhere deep inside me it felt like something foreign was winning a battle against me. Even when that place lay dormant I could still feel it there, knew it was still there inside me.
Maybe everyone had this inside them, I didn't know if this was normal or not...but I never heard anyone else discussing anything even remotely similar, so was afraid to talk about it to the others.
There were already plenty enough things others could point to about me that were considered odd, or freakishly different. I wasn't going to chance losing the friendships and closeness of the others by mentioning it. I tentatively brought it up to the house mother.
"Parasites." She pronounced, and doused me with a potion that made me very ill at my stomach. I clammed up about it after that.
Through the next four years, I guess I became accustomed to it. Then something happened that changed everything.
The orphans weren't allowed out when the Legion practiced with their swords on the lawns of the quad that housed the orphanage, but I'd found myself drawn to watch them with an intensity.
Deep inside me that unconnected place that usually warred for control suddenly came alive; but instead of a battle it felt like it melded in until it was fully a part of me. From that moment on it felt like we had become one.
I'd picked up a stick laying under the tree I was hiding behind to watch the practice; was pretending it was a sword, waving it in a rudimentary imitation of the training moves.
Suddenly it felt like my body belonged to someone else. I began moving with grace and agility, kicking my shoes off to feel the cool grass and clay against my feet and battling the tree with the stick as if it were an enemy attacking.
The stick snapped off after I'd tried to thrust. Behind me I heard a handclapping. I spun to see Leland and another of the older guards applauding. I held up the broken stick, the 'hilt' of it still in my hand.
"My sword broke."
"Can't fight with broken equipment." Leland winked and elbowed his friend. "Think we should let her try a real sword?"
"Can I? Please?"
"Go ahead and teach the beast, Leland. Lay you five Septims she cuts you." ***
Leland drew his training shortsword out, and I felt a shiver go down my spine at the sound of the metal leaving the sheath. I could barely hear Leland's instructions on how to hold it for the rush of excitement within me as I reached for it.
He placed it in my hand and instantly it felt like an extension of me that had been missing. The metal hilt warmed to the touch of my hand as if welcoming me back. The sword in my hand felt as familiar as breathing, or the sound of my own voice. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, my heart was pounding. I'd never felt so whole as I did in that moment, not since that day in the Legion office.
Leland was instructing, but I couldn't hear his words. Instead I was hearing the blade itself; the singing sounds it made, the changes in vibration and tone with each different movement.
Something deep within me reverberated hearing it, as if I'd known it for centuries and knew in advance every sound it was going to make. The other guard gave Leland his sword to use for the sparring, and with my eyes still closed I found myself visualizing the position of his blade, knew when it was sweeping or thrusting by the sound it made. It was more than familiar to me, it felt as if I'd been sparring with blades for lifetimes upon lifetimes. I knew this.
Sometimes it felt like I watched us from another realm, like seeing a beautiful dance; dodging and blocking, or stepping forward to meet Leland for a parry of blades, the embracing of our swords before the dance separated us again. I felt like a completely different person with a sword in my hand.
"Geelaw, Leland! That beast is a natural!" The other guard's voice sounded awed.
Leland offered to train me after the guard's practice ended every day. I'd always arrive early and watch them, letting the aromas linger in my nostrils; old leather and glycerin soap, steel, the sweetness of male sweat so intense and distinct. I'd kick my shoes off, just feeling the cool grass and clay beneath my feet. It felt like an ages old ritual, honing my senses before a big battle. I absorbed everything he taught, but inside me it seemed like an echo of what was already there.
Maybe it was just another thing they could point out that was freakish about me (and they did), but I didn't care if I was different about this.
*This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 22 2013, 12:14 PM
Mar 23 2010, 01:06 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
Memories of the orphanage; 3rd Era, year 421Chapter 3: Alix Lencolia
Alix Lencolia was the BladeMaster that trained and tested the Legion on their advanced Blade skills. I'd always watched him from our dorm window because we weren't allowed outside when he was on the grounds. I had to sneak out to spar with Leland that day.
Alix was teaching in the next quad. When his blade instruction ended he came over, hailing Leland before approaching me.
“I almost got stabbed watching you instead of what I should have been." He hesitated.
The fear hit me that he would turn me in to Phillida. "Please, I'm not supposed to be out here."
"Did I see you practicing with your eyes closed?“ Alix rested his hand on his sword hilt in an intriguing way. I nodded, trying to imitate his stance.
“I always do.”
“How do you do it?”
"I don't know, it comes from somewhere in here." I thumped my fist on my chest. "Do you want me to show you?"
He nodded, and I pointed at his shod feet. "You'll have to take your boots and socks off first so you can feel it." He pulled his boots off and set them a ways back.
"You have to feel everything like you are a part of it, first the grass on your feet. No, you have to close your eyes. Okay, now smell the air. Tell me when you're ready." I waited for his signal.
"Okay. Now keep your eyes closed and stand perfectly still. You have to be very quiet." I drew my sword from my sheath very slowly, savoring the sound of it.
His eyes popped open. “I’ve never heard it like this before!”
"Your eyes have to be shut to hear, just listen to it. Close your eyes again and listen for the sounds. First I'll do a sweep, then a thrust." I closed my eyes. Alix stopped me.
I don't think Alix trusted he wouldn't be stabbed since my eyes were shut. He asked if I would spar with him instead and let him watch me.
"Would I! Er...I mean yes, I would like that very much!"
He started off with all the moves Leland used, then did some I didn't recognize. I stopped him and opened my eyes.
“Wait, what was that you just did? And that move before it? I’ve never done those in training, what are they?”
“Those are moves only the Masters know.”
“Will you teach them to me?”
“Not today, but I promise I will.”***
In my excitement I'd almost done a little jig and sang out a "YIPEE!" song, but lurched to a stop after a couple convulsions. "Oops. I'm not allowed to sing and dance. Commander Phillida calls the healers. Once he thought prisoners were being tortured."
Alix barked out a choking laugh and then strangled it into a cough.
"It's okay to laugh, it doesn't bother me."
He sat down on the grass, indicating I should join him. That signaled my practice with him was over. I plunked down in front of him, watching his expressions closely. I caught his eyes encompassing my ragged clothes and tried to brush some dirt from them. It immediately smudged. His glance flickered at the prison side of the Compound before he spoke.
“Is your father stationed here with the Legion?” It was the first time he had spoken to me as if I were a child.
“I don’t have parents, I live in the orphanage over there.” I pointed.
“They have an orphanage in the prison compound? I didn’t know about it.”
“We aren’t allowed out when people are around. This is where they place the un-adoptable children.”
“Why are the children un-adoptable?” His voice softened in a way only a Breton's can.
“Beast races like me aren't desired. Some are just too old, people always want a baby. Once a child is old enough to get into trouble, no one wants them.”
Alix plucked a blade of grass and wet it with his tongue. He held it tightly on his mouth and blew on it, making a strange sort of whistle sound using the blade of grass. I was thoroughly intrigued, and plucked a blade myself. I tried to imitate him, but only heard the sound of my own breath blowing. Before I could ask how he did it, he distracted me with a question.
“Do you get into trouble a lot?”
I choked. “Oh…er...cough, cough. Only a very little.” The mock discreet voice didn't work any better than covering the lie with a fake cough. His eyes reflected he saw right through them, but to my relief they lit with amusement.
I was practicing my letters and a shadow fell across the parchment. I looked up to see Commander Phillida standing in front of me with his mouth open as if he'd hesitated mid action to decide how to phrase what he was going to say.
"What did I do?" My mind flew to the bedwetting prank I'd pulled on Hieronymus Lex. A full two days had passed since then, and I hadn't been called down for punishment yet. I tried to school a 'mournful but innocent' look on my face, not really sure how to do either. I'd overheard the lawyers instructing the prisoners to make that face when I was eavesdropping in the Elder Council Chambers.
A scowl came across his face and his mouth clamped shut. After an internal struggle that was visibly seen fluctuating across his face in ripplings of tensed muscles, he shook his head. “We'll discuss that on your return."
Whatever he had been about to say, he'd changed his mind about confronting me right now. That wasn't like him, especially when it was obvious I had a punishment coming. Something was up. I gave up trying to make the face, but kept it in memory in case that was what had turned the tide in my favor.
He cleared his throat. "Pack your things. You are going for a home visit, and I expect you to make a good impression. Is that understood?”
A what? "Huh? What is a home visit?"
"Alix Lencolia has applied to adopt you. You may never have another chance like this, so I suggest you use your time with him wisely."
"Huh? I thought we were unadoptables." What was he talking about? Was I hearing right?
Commander Phillida let out his breath in a gust before answering. "You will spend one weekend with him. This is a trial, to give him an opportunity to consider more carefully after seeing how you behave. It is an opportunity for you, Maxical. A home and family instead of this orphanage. I expect you to make the best impression you can so he does not change his mind about wanting you as his daughter."
"His daughter? I don't understand." What did he mean, I'd be his daughter? I heard Phillida's teeth grinding in response.
"He's talking about placing you with that man you play swords with, Ma'Thjizzrini Qa." Nissy whispered in Ta'agra.
I gaped at Commander Phillida. "You mean I'd live with him? At his house?" I felt a warm spark of excitement. Living with Alix, practicing Blade all the time? I couldn't imagine anything better than that!
"The best advice I can give you would be to talk to your house mother and a few of the older residents in your dorm here. If you learn nothing else, remember this. I order
you to be on your best behavior!" He pointed his finger at me for emphasis. We heard his feet stomping the whole way down the steps. ***
"I don't understand, isn't this a good thing? Why is he so mad about it?"
"Couldn't you tell? He's afraid you'll mess up and the adoption won't go through."
I sank down on the bed feeling a knot forming in my stomach. For the first time since coming here I had hope dangling within grasps reach. This place took your caring about anything away, now suddenly it was back. I wanted this adoption to go through so badly it scared me to even think about it not happening, but all the will in the world couldn't make me any smarter or less clumsy. Could I even hope to get through a whole weekend without some disaster happening? Would Alix forgive a few mess-ups?
"So am I." I barely whispered it, but Nissy heard.
"Ma'Thjizzrini Qa, if you'd just behave he'll have to want you. He likes playing swords with you."
Nissy's eyes were huger than normal. She understood without need of words everything going through my mind, I could read that in them; but behind it she looked sad and scared. I suddenly realized that mournful sounded like the expression she had right now.
"What is it, Nissy?"
"Ma'Thjizzrini Qa, will you ask him to adopt me too?"
"Can I? Will it get me into trouble? I mean, could it make Alix change his mind about wanting me?"
Nissy looked even sadder if that was possible. She half nodded, half shrugged. "Knowing there are two of us might scare him off. Especially if...you know. If you mess up somehow. These people want perfect children. Listen, don't spring it on him right away. Talk about me, but wait till you're sure he still wants you before you ask about me."
"Do you think I should suggest he choose you instead? You'll behave, and then you can work on him to accept me."
"Only if he rejects you first. He wants you because of the swords."
"Let's swear on it. Whichever of us he picks will plead for the other." I spat on my hand and raised it facing her. She did the same and we clasped the slimy hands and kissed each other's cheeks to seal the vow.
" I want this badly, Nissy. I'll try to behave, but you know sometimes things happen that I don't mean to do." ***
Our room packed up quickly with older orphans that had been through these home visits themselves, then been rejected at the end of the weekend. They were full of truthful advice. This was no time to paint a rosy picture, that was clear by the number of them that had been rejected, some more than once. That hope that felt so close I could grasp it a little while ago may as well have slid back into the void it came from.
"You'll be back. He only wants you because you both like swords, but once he sees how you behave he'll be dumping you back off here like yesterdays garbage."
"How do you know about it already? I just found out!"
"Everybody knows. We've already been taking bets on it. Listen to me, Maxical. Getting doors slammed in your face is nothing compared to someone getting to know you and deciding they don't want you. These home visits are like a test, they'll be comparing you to a dream they have of some perfect child. If you don't make them love you in one weekend, you come back here a failure."
"A test? I hate tests! Can't we just skip this home visit?"
"No, it's the law. They have to let him see what he's getting himself into. Phillida wants rid of you badly, if there was a way to get around this home visit he'd already have done it. You think he hates you now, see how much worse it gets if you're rejected after this home visit."
"He isn't the only one you'll have to be worrying about, either. You can play swords with him, but what about his wife?"
"His wife?" I blanched, turning even whiter if that was possible.
"Maybe she likes swords too." Nissy's voice was hopeful. I shot her a grateful glance.***
"Even the guards are taking bets you'll mess this adoption up. So far Leland and Pilus are the only two betting on you making it. Pilus said he just likes to bet longshots, hoping one will come in and make him wealthy."
"They're all betting on me failing?"
"Yup. Most of the boys dorm bet in the guard's pool. I'm taking all the girl's action. You can't bet against yourself because you could throw your chances, but if you want to bet to win I'll take it. By the way, did you know Lex is gone now?"
"Gone! What do you mean?"
"Lex has removed himself to the South Watch Tower and refuses to return as long as you're here. What'd you do to him?"
"You know, the bedwetting incident."
"Everyone got caught in that, what's so special about him?"
My face flushed. "He was in bed with that young guard from the South Watch and peed on him."
She spun around to a tall Altmer girl. "I called it, you need to pay up!"
"Lex gets more jobs than he gets paid for, it seems." The Altmer girl said, digging in her pocket for the coin.
Nissy and I stared dumbfounded while the rest of the room laughed.
"Never mind, it's forbidden knowledge. Listen, Phillida was in a tirade over Lex leaving, and just got another bill for repairs you've cost him. You'd better hope that adoption goes through." She stood up to leave, but snatched the sweetroll from my nightstand first. She took a large bite of it and then held it up to me. I waved her to take the bitten roll.
"I can't help being clumsy."
"You'd better find a way, I'm betting on you to win."
The girl taking the bets shook her head no. "Liar."
When they were gone I turned to Nissy; too scared to cry, but could feel the tears burning like acid in my eyes. "I'm never going to make it, am I?"
"We'll run away together if you don't. We've always got each other, Maxical. Just remember your promise to me if they keep you."
"I'll never forget you, Nissy. Never."
*This post has been edited by mALX: Aug 3 2013, 10:44 AM
Mar 23 2010, 05:23 PM
Joined: 23-March 10
Oh heck. Here I am in, and I have a nit to pick.
Poetic, and beautiful, mALX. And even rather close to the truth. But IRL, it's slightly different - master swordsmen 'feel' instictively the attack of their enemy, NOT from the sound of the blade through the air, but from the touch of the blade against their own as they parry or block.
I have seen this IRL with my masters, one of whom actually showed me that he could parry my two wooden swords with his own twinset...after the first touch he closed his eyes, and still parried and blocked me easily for about two minutes before he casually flicked a strike straight through my defense.
In fencing terms this is called 'having the touch'. You find this in some martial arts disciplines, too - in fact Jet Kune Do specifically trains for this.
But apart from that...DELIGHTFUL BEGINNING!!!
Mar 23 2010, 09:17 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
The OrphanageChapter 4: The Home Visit
Two guards escorted me for my probationary visitation, I probably looked like a prisoner to the people we passed...and felt like one. I was nervous...terrified, actually. I was terrified of failing, returning to the orphanage rejected by Alix. Terrified of seeing the look of rejection on his face, of knowing it would be the end of our practices together. I'd lose everything.
This would be nothing like seeing Alix at the blade practice. Everything about this felt wrong; unnatural...formal and stiff. Then there was the tension about meeting Alix’s wife. Probably a Breton like him. I didn’t imagine Alix wanting to bring a beast home and adopt it going over well with her.
All the orphans that had been through this themselves warned me off getting attached; and how much worse the rejection felt when someone that had gotten to know them slammed the door on them. They'd all been through the Legion trying to place them too, but called this the ultimate rejection. I could see it in their eyes while they talked; humiliation and the kind of pain that cuts deep and doesn't go away.
Several advised me to deliberately blow it, take the pressure off. I wasn't sure if it was because they had bet on me to fail, but to be honest a part of me wanted to follow their advice. As they said, at least then I'd hold the power over whether I was rejected, it wouldn't come as a knife in the dark after trying my hardest.
I hadn't slept and had barely eaten in days, dreading this trial visit. I wished we could have gone on just the way we were; that Alix never applied to adopt me. I've never felt so much pressure, was physically ill from it.
My only firm plan was to watch Alix, gauge what he was thinking. I'd decided to run away straight from his home if I thought he didn't want me, never return to the orphanage and face them knowing Alix had rejected me. Maybe they'd assume he'd gone through with adopting me. ***
The guards stopped at an Inn, I thought for a meal. My stomach was in knots, I had no desire to eat. As they were lifting me down from the horse, the door of the Inn opened and Alix came out. It turned out he lives there.
It felt completely different than meeting him at the quad for blade practice. I felt shy and awkward, nauseated and slightly faint. I had a strong urge to burst out crying and didn't know why or if I could stop it. I just stood staring at the ground, fighting to keep from bawling or vomiting. One or the other felt imminent.
“It feels strange for only a short while, then they will leave and we will practice. Will that make you feel more comfortable?”
Alix's voice, but speaking in my own native tongue broke through my intense focus on my shoes, startling me into looking up. I breathed in relief and nodded, somehow comforted by hearing Ta'agra coming from Alix.
When Alix introduced me to his wife it was a welcome shock that brought an instant easing of the tension in my stomach. She was Khajiit.
Not even Alix could have made me feel more welcome than S'Jirra did. She chattered incessantly as she took me up to my room, mostly about how long they had prayed for a child. She said I would fit into their family just perfectly. I hoped they would still feel that way after they saw how I behaved.
S'Jirra had taken a lot of care in setting up one of the guest rooms for me, and proudly showed me every alteration she'd made to turn it into a room that would suit a little girl about to turn seven.
A princess could have stayed in it and not complained. Pink ruffled curtains tied back with ribbon hung in the window and off an arched thing on top of the bed. I pointed to it, wide-eyed.
"That's a canopy, dear. Alix added these tall posts to the bed, but it looked too severe for a little girl. I made him get right back out there and build the canopy. This will be your room from now on."
A doll made of rags rested on the pillow. I grabbed it up and hugged to my chest.
S'Jirra beamed. "I made that for you." ***
A silver dagger lay angled on the dresser along with a travel pack that wasn't made like the Cyrodiil packs. There was an odd pattern of discolored brown spots that looked like someone had recently tried to scrub off, the leather was still wet. It struck a chord of recognition in my memory and made a sickening knot form in my stomach. Those spots had been red when I'd seen them. This was the same pack I'd seen that day in the Legion office where all my memories stop.
"How did you get this?" When I looked up S'Jirra was watching me, her eyes looking like she may cry any second.
"That pack and dagger belonged to your mother, dear. Commander Phillida gave them to Alix yesterday."
"My mother's?" I sunk down on the bed in shock, fingering the pack carefully. How could I remember a pack, but not my own mother?
S'Jirra picked up a gold locket on a chain from the dresser and sat down beside me on the bed. "This was hers too. The locket opens up, see? You can put something you treasure inside it." She clasped the locket around my neck for me, then held me gently.
I cried, but the tears and ache inside me were for not having any memory of my mother. I fell asleep cradled in her arms, clutching my mother's pack and the ragdoll.
When I woke S'Jirra was still there holding me. The pressure and worry I'd felt all week was gone. Everything felt right here, like I belonged already. I had no doubt Phillida was pushing this adoption through if he'd already given my mother's things to them. Everyone had warned me not to get attached, but...there was no way not to. ***
Alix kept his promise and took me out to practice, teaching me several new moves while S'Jirra watched from the porch. He said that everything he knew of blades came from here, pointing to his head. He said with me it all came from my heart, and that was a gift.
The weekend flew by. I talked a lot about Nissy, but never mentioned adopting her too. I won’t lie and say I behaved the whole weekend, though I did try to. Some things got broken, and I did some things wrong, mostly pranks. Most weren’t deliberate.
I'd discovered you could access the roof from the hill behind the Inn if you ran and then leaped. S’Jirra has hundreds of Jumbo potatoes around that she uses to make the best potato bread I've ever tasted. It was only natural for me to play with the potatoes on the roof because they would roll down it and drop off.
A Legionnaire was riding up for the luncheon just as a potato was rolling down, it was too late to stop it. The potato hit the ground behind the horse and rolled quickly under a bush. The horse went into a frenzy, dumping the mounted and taking off at a dead run. The Legionnaire didn’t see me and blamed Alix, cursing him. I thought I was going to see a fight for a minute.
While on the roof I found a birds nest with baby birds in it. I brought it in to show S’Jirra, and an angry mother bird flew in behind me and disrupted the lunch crowd.
The worst thing I did was truly an accident. A Forester that frequents the Inn was trying to teach me archery with an old training bow Alix found in the basement. The arrows went everywhere but where I was aiming. I accidentally stuck the Forester with an arrow. That was the end of my archery lessons. He finally accepted my apology, but I didn't get the feeling he forgave me for it.
It was the last day of my probationary visitation when I tried to slide down the steps on a serving tray and crashed into Abhuki, knocking her down. She was carrying a platter of orders that flew out of her hands. Several things got broken and the orders had to be re-filled. Abhuki owns the Inn.
“It’ll be a miracle from the Gods if we ever see another customer. These past two days have cost more than the entire year before.” Abhuki grumbled.
Somehow between S'Jirra's doting fondness and Phillida giving them my mother's possessions in advance I'd forgotten that Alix and S’Jirra could still change their minds about wanting to adopt me. With a sickening twisting of my stomach it suddenly struck me forcibly, the realization that they could. That they might.
That realization, the fear; I know it showed on my face, I could see reflections of their reactions to it building in their eyes. I'd planned to gauge their thoughts, but here was the moment for me to do it and I couldn't. My mind was frozen in the fear that I'd lost everything. No amount of being sorry would take back what I'd done, what I'd cost them. ***
My mind was churning a flood of images, the universal rejection on all those faces as they slammed their doors closed to me. I couldn't stand seeing that same look on Alix and S'Jirra's faces, not from them.
My breathing constricted in my chest with a choking sound. I ran, blindly pushing through the door and out the gate.
At Alix's practice field I ground to a helpless stop, not knowing where else to go. A thick forest ringed the clearing of the Inn, with only a rutted dirt trail winding through the brush leading to it. The dark woods terrified me, Abhuki said it was filled with wild beasts. My mother's dagger lay on the dresser in my room, I'd have no defense if animals attacked me. I turned first one way then the other, not knowing what to do.
The sound of the creaking front door was followed by a footfall I recognized as Alix's. My arms and legs felt rigid with fear that if I turned and looked he'd be carrying my things. I couldn't bear hearing Alix say he'd changed his mind, wished he'd sent S’Jirra...no. I couldn't take her not wanting me either.
Alix's hand touched my shoulder, but I couldn’t turn to face him and kept my face averted. My heart was pounding in my chest and it hurt to breathe. His hand slid down my arm and turned my shaking hand palm up. I expected my mother’s pack, or the dagger. Instead Alix placed his silver longsword in my hand.
The sword warmed in my hand, comforted. An old friend that is beside you when everyone else is gone. A tear slid down my cheek in spite of my effort to hold it back, and then Alix spoke.
“There is nothing you could ever do that would cause us to stop loving you, or wanting you to be our daughter. You need never be afraid again. You are as much a part of us as that sword is a part of you. That is my silver longsword, I’ve had it since I was your age. I am pledging it to you as a vow that I mean this from the heart. You need never doubt our love again.”
“I can’t behave, no matter how hard I try.” My voice was raw.
“Then I guess our lives will be that much more exciting for you being with us."
The air released from my chest in a rush, breaking the hold I had on my control. Alix lifted me up and held me tightly while I cried.
Alix said he believed some children just had more spirit than others, like some horses were more spirited than others. He didn't believe in breaking a child’s spirit by punishing them for ill deeds. I told him I hoped they were on good terms with the Gods then, and he laughed.
Almost five years in an orphanage that even its name tells you there is no hope that you'll ever have a home and family, ever be loved. It was over. I thanked all the gods whose names I could remember for Alix and S'Jirra, they couldn't have picked a better home for me. Alix and S'Jirra doted on me, even after they saw how I behaved.
I had to leave the dagger there when they took me back to the compound at the end of my probationary visitation. Alix said Commander Phillida wouldn’t sleep nights if he knew I was armed. He lay the dagger on my dresser and said it would be there waiting for me to come home. They escorted me back and then went immediately to start the adoption proceedings. I'd forgotten to ask them about adopting Nissy.
*This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 22 2013, 12:33 PM
Mar 23 2010, 10:22 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
@ Acadian - I liked it better too, I was trying to stay away from it being overly ooky. Not sure if I accomplished that, but it is still less than the first, lol. Thank you so much Acadian!
@ Olen - Thank you very much! I am trying to revamp the original, it is just too long, and there were some parts that on re-read months later just seemed...sappy. So I am attempting to cut them out and slim down the size some, lol. Thank you Olen!
@ Destri Melarg - I have been putting a lot of Alix into the latest chapters due to him having no role for so long - and now there is Barbas, who mysteriously likes Alix for something other than a meal, lol. I'll have to wait a bit to post them and re-read them to see if they will fly, lol. Thank you so very much Destri!
@ Winter Wolf - Lol, I can get a screenie of her on the roof easily enough, I wonder...maybe using the duplication glitch to roll potatoes down and quick jump back for a screenshot, lol. I'll see what I can do. Couldn't have the story without the dagger, lol. Thank you so much Wolf !!!!!
The OrphanageChapter 5: The Day Of Fathis Aren
The fourth good thing that came out of my time at the orphanage was a matter of perfect timing, although I didn't consider it a good thing at the time.
Being a ward of the state you are sometimes given the opportunity for a benefactor to pay for schooling. Fathis Aren comes annually to choose one orphan to receive a year paid tuition at the Arcane University, the school of magic. It is a real opportunity for a needy child who would not else get the chance, at least that is what we were told.
Eavesdropping netted me much more information than that. I was sneaking through the Legion dorms to pull a prank, but midway in several guards entered through the opposite door. I dove under a bed and froze, not able to leave without being seen. What I overheard; I really didn't know what it meant, but guessed it must be forbidden knowledge. My eyes nearly popped from my head listening.
"What [censored] bee got into Phillida's butt?"
"It's that [censored] rich Court Mage from Castle Bravil, Fathis Aren. He comes early tomorrow. Phillida always gets like this when a big purse comes."
"Aren? Isn't he that Dunmer that always looks like he's ate bad meat?"
“That's him. His expression is perpetual boredom, as if he'll die of ennui at any given moment if his age doesn‘t get him first.” He made his voice airy and drawled his words mockingly.
“He isn’t bored, he just thinks he's better than the working class.”
“True there.” A deep voice grunted.
“He is bored. Court life will drag the life out of you.” An older voice sounded.
“All the women he gets? He sure ain't bored!” A younger man scoffed.
“Pilus is right, he can’t be bored. Fathis gets it more than Uriel Septim, women come looking for him. If you ask me, he donates to the orphans because he fathered over half of them. The rest are Uriel’s so he considers it his patriotic duty to care for them.” Raucous laughter followed that.
“He’s a womanizer all right. He could repopulate Cyrodiil single-handed if the need arose. I've heard stories..."
"Married women hound him, I know that for a fact.” Someone interrupted.
“Get out of here!” Something was thrown and hit the wall with a thud.
“He’s not exaggerating, I’ve heard them. You forget I used to work the gates. You hear and see everything there.” The older voice said.
“That's truth, I worked them for a while myself. You wouldn‘t believe some of the things I heard.” Another piped in.
“I worked mounted for five years; you can't take a step in Cyrodiil without tripping over one of Uriel’s bastards, and there's always two of Fathis’s right behind them.” The older voice said. A roar of loud laughter and jeering followed.
"How many of your own did you trip over Leland?" Someone called out. I took advantage of the noise to slip out. ***
The paperwork was still in the process of being completed for Alix and S’Jirra to adopt me; so I was there the day Fathis Aren came.
Only the beautiful human children were put on display when rich people showed up with their gold pouches opened, beast races were kept out of sight. My window overlooked the row of immaculate children being lined up for Fathis to interview, so my room quickly filled with children wanting to watch.
The magic arts didn't interest me anyway, and my future was already secured with my adoption in the works. The idea of climbing out the window and dropping into the line with the others was merely for a prank, to shock the rich Court Mage when he saw a cat within the ranks of Imperial children.
When I climbed out on the ledge though, it frightened what must have been all of Tamriel’s pigeon population into flight at once. They circled back to defend their roosting spot and chaos followed.
Some of them made a bee-line for the window I had opened, frightening the other children that had been banned from attending Fathis Aren’s arrival. They barreled down the steps and burst screaming out the door.
An air attack of no small proportions began on the row of immaculate children; they were shrieking as they dodged the pigeon attacks.
Some windows were broken in the melee that ensued, and the office of Commander Phillida was compromised. He charged out of his office followed by several Imperial Guards with the flock of angry birds in hot pursuit. Fathis Aren arrived just in time to see the pandemonium.
Commander Phillida was bellowing curses while he and two guards were chasing me across the quad. I glanced back to see if they were gaining on me and was mesmerized by the enormous glob of pigeon poop splashed across Phillida’s brow that looked like it might drip down into his open mouth. Not wanting to miss the moment it did, I continued to run forward while craning my head behind to watch.
At the last second before crashing into him, I glanced forward to see a Dunmer watching the scene with a look of unholy amusement on his face. I leaped onto his chest and wrapped my arms around his neck, clinging tightly.
“Save me!” I gasped in Ta'agra as Phillida and the Imperial Guards came roaring up. ***
My motto is ‘when in doubt, fake a faint’ so I did, letting my head loll back and my arms droop down limply.
“Little minx. It rather looks like they need saving from you.” Fathis said quietly, and in perfect Ta'agra.
I stiffened, opening one eye to see if I'd heard right. He was watching my face and caught me. His slanted red eyes were laughing. I quickly veiled my eyes again, letting the long lashes close down with just a slit left open to watch the action.
When they saw it was Fathis Aren, Phillida and the guards ground to a halt, trying to act dignified. That is hard to do with angry red faces covered in pigeon poop.
“Sir, we apologize for this disruption. I can’t imagine what you must be thinking, I assure you…” Phillida broke off, pulling a hankie out and wiping the bird droppings from his face.
“Am I to assume by this greeting that you were not expecting my arrival today?” Fathis asked, his voice inscrutable.
“No sir, I mean yes sir. We expected you. That is, you were expected. We have some candidates over here, if you would like to…Guards! Get Maxical and take her and the others back inside so Fathis can meet the children we have selected for his…that is the children that show promise.”
Commander Phillida pointed to the once immaculate children, who were now a mess. Their hair and clothing was askew and covered in bird droppings, as was the lawn around them.
“I have never asked for a selection, you were to show me all. Have I been wrong in assuming you followed my instructions, and that the determination of promise would be left up to me?” Fathis sounded stern. If fiery red eyes can look cold, his did.
“No sir. Well, to be honest sir, we were under the…that is to say we thought you only meant the human children.” Phillida corrected himself.
“I never said that.” Fathis sounded angry. ***
While still trying to give the appearance of being blacked out, I had buried my face in Fathis’s neck and was sniffing loudly. He was scented! I had never smelled a man wearing scent before.
The guards were trying to pull me out of Fathis’s arms and I clung tighter around his neck, giving up my fake blackout.
“Is this child to be punished?” Fathis’s voice indicated no preference in the matter, but the guards stopped tugging at me.
“Yes sir!…Er, what would you have us do sir?” Phillida hemmed and hawed.
“When they said you were a womanizer, was it because you wear scent like a woman?“ I asked in Ta'agra. Fathis nearly choked.
“Where did you hear that?” He asked, speaking in Ta'agra.
“I hear talk. They said you could repopulate Cyrodiil single-handedly if the need arose. Is that true? What does it mean?” I leaned closer and sniffed him some more.
Fathis did choke. “I don't want to know anything more you have overheard. You should never repeat what you hear eavesdropping, which I'm sure you did to have heard that.” He sounded stern, but his red eyes looked amused.
“But if I don’t know what something means, how can I know not to repeat it? Is it something…shocking?” I tried to sound innocent, but was intrigued. Was it forbidden knowledge? I was determined to learn what it meant now.
“You are too young to be overhearing these things. That should be a lesson not to eavesdrop.” Fathis was struggling to sound stern. There was laughter behind it, and his eyes held the same. ***
“I didna' set out to eavesdrop. I was sneaking through the men’s dorms while they slept.”
“What were you doing in the men’s dorms then?”
“If you dip their hands in warm water while they sleep, their bladders loose in their beds. It's boring here, there's nothing to do. If I can’t stand it another second, sometimes I pull pranks.”
Fathis barked a laugh, but then got serious. “I understand boredom very well. But you must never go in those dorms at night again. Men can be dangerous, you could be harmed. Give me your word you'll not sneak into the dorms again. Do I have it then? And no crossed fingers behind my neck, I felt that.”
“Do I have to spit on my hand?”
“I hope you won’t. I may drop you quickly if I see spit.”
I wrapped my arms tighter around his neck and sniffed him some more. “You sure smell good Fathis Aren. When I'm grown, I want to marry a man who smells just like you.”
“You, my girl, are a little minx!” Fathis said. “Remember what I said, never go in there again.”
Khajiit read people through their eyes, I found Fathis to be not what I expected at all. He gave orders that I not be punished. ***
The guard Pilus popped his head in the door. “You have a visitor, Maxical.”
I was surprised to see Fathis Aren below. “Fathis!” I ran toward him with a smile, then looked around. “Where's Alix? They said I had a visitor.”
“I’m the visitor.” Fathis said, smiling. “You looked glad to see me, come. Take a turn in the yard with me, I have something to talk to you about.”
“Am I in trouble for those things I said? I didn’t know what they meant…then.” I flushed red as a tomato. I'd found out what they meant since.
“Nae, you're in no trouble. I came to tell you about a plan for your future. I'm giving a full scholarship for you to attend the Arcane University.”
“But I’m getting adopted, I don’t need to know anything now.” The fear hit me that the adoption had fallen through.
“I talked to Alix and S’Jirra before coming here. They are thrilled for you to have this opportunity. You'll have five years before your studies begin, but I'll be visiting to bring you elementary spell lessons to practice at home."
I wasn't thrilled to have the opportunity, but breathed relief that I had five years to talk Alix and S'Jirra out of it. I nodded, trying not to show my lack of enthusiasm. Fathis touched my cheek, leaving a hint of his scent behind. I rubbed the back of my hand against my cheek and sniffed it, waving goodbye with my other hand.
Fathis no sooner walked out when Alix walked in. Now that I was sure they'd be adopting me, I had to ask about Nissy. I hemmed and hawed, not knowing how to start.
"Er...remember my best friend Nissy I told you about? She's been crying a lot because I'm leaving, I'm her only close friend here." It wasn't a lie, she had cried; worried they wouldn't take her too. "Er...would you like to meet her?"
Alix nodded. I took his hand and led him up to our room. It was empty. I glanced under each bed, surprised; then peeked into the schrank. Nissy wasn't there.
"I don't understand, she was just here. But you'll really like her. We're like sisters, except she's really well behaved. She'll be so lonely when I'm gone..."
Alix understood, he nodded. "I'll have to ask S'Jirra first, you know that."
"She'll say yes, right? She prayed and prayed for a child...right?"
Alix scooped my up into his arms and squeezed me tight. "Yes, she sure did."***
The next morning a guard pounded on my door. "They're here for you."
I grabbed my mother's pack off the bed, glancing around the room. I couldn't shake the feeling there was something I was forgetting.
S'Jirra hugged me first. "Where's your friend Nissy? I'd like to meet her. Alix is talking to Audens Avidius right now about adopting her."
I stared blankly at her. "Who?"
"Your friend Nissy, the one you've been telling us about."
Somewhere deep inside me that sickening feeling of not remembering something important was like an incessant needle pricking at me, but my mind kept coming up blank.
"I don't know who you mean, are you adopting someone I know?"
S'Jirra looked stunned and confused. Alix walked up then, shaking his head and giving S'Jirra an odd look.
"Avidius said they've never had anyone named Nisaba here. He looked through the files right in front of me. He said they've had no other Khajiit in the four years Maxical has been here."
******** Me And Fathis Aren
*This post has been edited by mALX: Aug 3 2013, 11:20 AM
Mar 25 2010, 02:16 PM
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN
@ Zalphon - Thank you Zalphon! It is great to have you reading Maxical again!
@ Winter Wolf - Thank you so much Wolf - I was going to drop this chapter, but Hauty made a special request for it so it stayed, lol.
@ Hauteecole Rider - Thank you very much Hauty! And I posted the pics of Jarol, lol. I almost left this chapter out, I'm glad I didn't now. It was one of my favorites of the earlier chapters too!
@ Foxy - Thank you very much Foxy! And you are right, I added some to it, lol. I am cutting out a lot of what I bring here, but the Foxy episodes will all stay intact!
@ Acadian - Thank you so much Acadian! You are greatly appreciated!
@ Remko - Yeah! Thank you very much Remko! I appreciate you - especially for bringing "The Contract" over - that means a lot to me, and when I begged, bugged, and slobbered for you to do it, I really didn't think you would! I am glad it is not holed away here like it was at the BGSF, others really should see it!
@ Destri Melarg - Thank you so much Destri! I wanted to limit it to 2000 words, but could have come up with plenty more. That chapter was inspired by my older son. I was called daily by the school - no exaggeration.
Friday-Faced = A dismal countenance; melancholy-looking; dejected.
Yeah! Foxy!!! See what happens when I don't have your expertise? You are a needed addition to this forum! I planned all kinds of errors in my fights just to draw you in to comment! Yeah !!!!!!! Thank you Foxy! You ROCK !!*******************
The ArcaneChapter 6: School Years
S’Jirra tugged at Alix’s arm, leaning in close to whisper in his ear. Khajiit are incapable of whispering quietly, I clearly overheard S'Jirra’s 'imaginary friend'. Were they buying me one? What was it?
Leaving the orphanage felt like a purging, it was freeing as if I’d been there as a prisoner. Leaving it this way; to a family and love, that felt like a miracle I hadn’t even dared pray for.
Alix was pointing out the sights as we walked, but I barely saw them. My mind dwelled heavily on those names they'd asked me about, Nissy and Nisaba. They were a barb stabbing something in me, as if I should know them but didn't. It brought a sick feeling in my stomach for some reason.
They couldn't have been orphans at the compound, I'd know them...wouldn't I? I strained to remember any of my friends from the orphanage but couldn't think of a single name, not even an image of a face. We'd just left there not half an hour ago, why couldn't I remember them?
My room I remembered in explicit detail; where each bed was situated, even the patterns of the quilted covers on each of the beds. Everything but the girls that had filled those other beds.
There were clear glimpses of the guards stationed there, I remembered their names well. Everything except those I would have cared about most, my friends. Their memories were erased as cleanly as my mother's, or my life before that Legion office.
My friends had become faceless and nameless, their voices muted indistinguishable echoes of sound. It was like chapters in a book whose pages blew free from their binding once the moments were passed.
Once settled in my room, all thoughts of the orphanage and who I might have known there were long from my mind. I'd never have believed my life could be this happy...perfect. The next five years flew by in a blink. ***
I thought the matter of going to the Arcane would have been dropped after I went to live with Alix and S’Jirra. It wasn't. Not long after my twelfth birthday they started making preparations for me to go. I cried and pleaded, but it did no good. I promised everything I could think of, including good behavior which I am sure they knew was a promise I couldn‘t keep.
My first letters home were spent begging for Alix to come get me and bring me home. I finally realized they wouldn’t give in, and tried to make the best of it. It turned out that I actually loved school and made some very close friends there.
Whether the Arcane loved me was another story. Alix and Fathis got daily mailings from the Arcane about my behavior, but truthfully I only got into major trouble a few times.**************************************************************
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
You may be getting a letter from Raminus Polus, but there is no proof I was involved.
Raminus Polus is upset by something that occurred. It seems someone entered the upstairs Mage Apprentice quarters and dipped their hands in warm water while they slept. Raminus is just mad because he was sleeping in there and suffered some embarrassment.
He doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping anymore, and has been spotted pacing in the public areas at night. He sleeps in the mornings while we are in class.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
If you get a letter from Irlav Jarol, please do not worry that I will be expelled no matter what he says. We all have boot blacking, I’m not the only one that had a tin of it, and any one of us could have used ours up. Alix, it does eventually wear out of skin, does it not? Everything is fine here other than that.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
If you get a letter from Raminus Polus, he is just being spiteful. Not everyone can get the hang of conjuration their first semester. No one was hurt badly.
Speaking of hurt though, several of my classmates have had to be healed. My professor says I can cast destruction spells with the pros but my aim is so bad that I should apply to fight with the enemies for my allies protection.
I was forced to drop out of Archery class, please don’t tell Forester, it may bring up some bad memories.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
First off, I am not writing because I have gotten into trouble. Other than the watermelon incident in which no one could prove was me because - well never mind. Irlav Jarol just always blames everything that happens on me.
For your own peace of mind, it may be best if you just tear up any letters from the school that aren’t from me.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
You may be receiving a letter from Arch Mage Traven and possibly the Imperial Legion, but you can ignore them now. I was in trouble, but Fathis Aren fixed everything. He paid off the guard with a large check and made a huge donation to the Arcane University.
We were just borrowing the horse, not stealing it. The horse wasn’t hurt, and the guard said he will press no charges since Fathis paid him so well.
I had to clean up the manure in Arch Mage Traven’s bedroom, so I‘ve already been punished. Oh, and Fathis replaced the Arch Mage's blanket with one much nicer, since the horse chewed up the old one.
Fathis was not mad at all, he did that thing with his lips that you do Alix, when you don’t want someone to know you are smiling. Alix, it was just an experiment, not a prank, I promise.
Arch Mage Traven said he has begun praying to Akatosh for me to graduate. He said I have high spirits. He never stays mad long if everyone would just stop bringing things to his attention.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
You may be receiving a letter from Arch Mage Traven and Irlav Jarol. I already wrote Fathis and asked him to pay for the windows in the Arch Mage’s tower. I was not aiming at the windows so was able to honestly tell him that it was an accident.
Irlav Jarol has at least a dozen robes just like that one. How he thinks I can get his robe down from there, I don’t know. I offered to blast it down with a spell and Arch Mage Traven turned as white as me and forbade me do it.
My best friend Delphine Jend asked me to come visit her in Bravil after I graduate. She said she would help me get on with the Mages Guild there. I’d be close to Fathis, but I really don’t want to work there. I found out there is an Arena here where people get paid to fight with swords! That‘s what I want to do.
Delphine has a velvet dress that is almost as nice as Fathis’s clothing. I hope I can have a dress like that some day. (HINT, HINT, Alix?)
Arch Mage Traven said I have wicked imps in my eyes, but he was not terribly mad when he said it.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
I may be expelled. You may be receiving a letter from Arch Mage Traven. He is very upset with me. I wrote Fathis and asked him if he could pay for the damages to the grounds. It really was an accident, and that‘s the truth this time. Fathis said he will pay for them to lay a nice lawn and garden there. I may have talked them out of expelling me since I only lack five or so semesters from graduation.
Arch Mage Traven is going over my grades to see if I can graduate earlier than the six years. He said he had brown hair when I came and now it is all gray, but that’s not true, his hair is the same color it was when I came.
I really didn’t mean to do it.
Dear Alix and S’Jirra -
Good news! I am graduating early!
Arch Mage Traven said he needed a long vacation after I graduate. I invited him to the Faregyl, but he declined. He said he'd rather visit the planes of Oblivion to get some peace. His eyes twinkled when he said it, he was just joking.
My best friend Delphine will be getting an award for one of her spells, the Arcane is very excited about it. It is called “Enemies Explode.” She is giving me a copy as a graduation present. Delphine said not to worry about me blowing up anything like I did here, she thinks it's fixed now. I can’t wait for you to meet her. I sent Fathis his invitation already, I hope he'll come.
We have another holiday coming up in two weeks, they're supposed to fix the damages I caused while the students are away. Will Alix be coming to escort me?
********************************************************************** Arch Mage Traven
“Fathis, I believe you encourage that child in her mischief by laughing each time.” Arch Mage Traven said in his sternest voice.
“Oh Traven, she is unspoiled. Would you have me read her a lecture? I won’t you know.”
“I would use the term spoiled rather. She is turning this campus upside down.” Traven’s voice reflected his exasperation.
“Irlav Jarol brings it on himself. She is a child with high spirits, that is all. That energy will naturally find a more suitable outlet as she matures. This campus could use some life thrown into it. A morgue has more life in it than Jarol has. The man is positively Fredas-faced. He needs to be retired, or not be in a position to incite the young children.” Fathis signed his name with a flourish on another large donation to the Arcane University.
As he handed it over Fathis added, “Traven, did you never think of hanging your professor’s robes from the towers?”
While Arch Mage Traven was reaching his hand for the donation, his mind was going back in time to a particular professor whose robes had hung from a certain spire “I never tried to blast them up there using a spell, nor broke windows in the process.”
Fathis leaned over and shook Arch Mage Traven’s hand. “For a second there, I saw a flash of wicked imps in your eyes Traven. Let the child grow as she will. The world will smother that life out of her soon enough and I can stand the Septims for any inconvenience.”
Arch Mage Traven shook his head, leaning back in his chair as he watched Fathis exit. His mind traveled once again to that professor. Fathis did have a point, Irlav put him strongly in mind of the man. ******* Maxical
If it hadn't been for Fathis I'd have been pushed out of the Arcane within the first month. Fathis's influence carried a lot of weight, but more often than not his open banque account was what kept me out of trouble; though I didn't learn that till years later.
Very early on I'd started turning to Fathis immediately when problems arose, and only told Alix and S'Jirra about the trouble after Fathis had fixed everything. I thought if they never learned of trouble till it was over, they would never regret having adopted me.
Through the past six years Fathis always came immediately when a messenger was sent, and never once berated me for getting into trouble. Just like he did that first day of meeting him at the orphanage, he'd step in like a shield that no ill will could penetrate. No matter how bad the situation, as soon as Fathis got there he quickly made all right again; as if it never was...usually better than it was before. I felt protected in a way I'd never known.
Fathis had a large rectangular leather-bound book he would pull out from the folds of a thick velvet satchel that hung at his waist. As a child I thought it held powerful magic, because every time he brought it out people's expressions changed from angry rage to smiles and fawning. I learned later it was Fathis's cheque book.
After realizing Fathis was expending gold to right those situations, I always turned to him first because I knew Alix and S'Jirra could never afford to pay the damages. I grew to trust and rely on Fathis for everything.
Fathis visited regularly, bringing me to Castle Bravil and the Palace on Public Days and staying frequently at the Faregyl when I was on vacations, but it was in our letters that a very close friendship developed between us.
There was a turning point in the last two years where the communication between us just seemed to open up in those letters. I told Fathis things I've never discussed with anyone, not even Alix and S'Jirra.
It was Fathis's letters back to me that made me feel closest to him. In them I could almost hear his voice saying the words, and they revealed aspects of him few knew. Certainly no women had seen these other sides of Fathis; although plenty of women saw a side of him I never have, being his ward.
That is the truth. Fathis's reputation with women was the cause of a lot of gossipy tongues wagging over him having a young girl as his ward; but the truth was that for all his womanizing with every other female on Nirn, he treated his guardianship of me as a sacred trust.
*This post has been edited by mALX: Aug 3 2013, 11:42 AM
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