Thanks for the info, everyone! I think I can manage to work out a posting schedule now.
But first, posting this because I'm still on holiday and don't know the next time I'll get to update.
@Acadian - thank you!
"Focussed" is actually an alternate UK spelling, but since "focused" is accepted and more common in both I'll just edit to reduce confusion.
@Olen - the potted plant thing was a last-minute addition, so I'm glad you liked it. (It may make a reoccurence later...) I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, hope Adryn continues to interest you...Chapter 1, part 2
We chatted for a while, Jiub dropping the sombre tone with alarming speed. I wasn't sure whether it was me or himself he was trying to cheer up with his exaggerated, foppish manner. If it was me, it worked splendidly. I was actually giggling, the dream almost entirely forgotten when Jiub shushed me, warning that the guard was coming.
The guard came to see us sitting on the floor side-by-side in perfect silence, faces perfectly composed as we stared back at him. He muttered something that sounded like "crazy Dunmer", then barked at me to come with him.
Only me, apparently; I looked helplessly towards Jiub, who just shrugged, the message 'what can you do' clearly evident in his expression. Then I hurried after the guard.
He shooed me through the hold and finally up onto the deck of the ship after saying, "let's keep this as civil as possible." I'm not entirely sure why the warning. What was he expecting me to do sit down on the floor and refuse to go a step further? Because an Imperial prison ship is such a wonderfully pleasant place to be, after all. They'll start renting them out as cruise ships for the nobility in Imperial City any day now, I'm sure. Or maybe attack him with my bare hands?
Needless to say, the proceedings were perfectly civil on my side of things. Really, if anyone needed the reminder he did apparently basic politeness was beyond him. Too much for his already overworked little brain, I conjectured.
The guard didn't follow me outside and I took a moment to catch my breath I was really in terrible shape, and the fact that it was much, much warmer than I was used to didn't help and look around.
The ship was docked at a small village, consisting of some houses built in typical Imperial fashion but mainly shacks that looked as if they were about to sink into the surrounding swamp. The entire coast seemed to be swamp, in fact, turning into low hills further inland. It seemed the land rose even further; in the distance, I thought I could make out a mountain range. The swamp was filled with greenery, all of it entirely unfamiliar to me. The trees were alien, the flowers were alien, even the mushrooms were alien. (Yes, I am sure. They were quite a distance away, it is true, but the mushrooms I was used to don't glow.
) The air was filled with strange sounds no bird-calls, but chittering and clicking and strange hoots.
Oh, and there was a giant flea standing just past the village.
I looked at it for a moment, then decided it was a hallucination brought on by too much sleep.
Someone cleared their throat. I jumped.
Apparently, I couldn't be trusted to walk two feet by myself; here was yet another guard. And down there on the dock was a third. Wonderful.
I endured the rat-race of being escorted from guard to guard and finally made my way through the door of what Guard Number Two had called the "census office". (Guard Number Three had merely wanted to know where I was from. Frankly, if the people supposedly in charge of registering arrivals don't even know where the ships coming in are from, this place is in deep trouble.)
Inside, I was greeted with another guard and for a change a bureaucrat. Now, some people might be puzzled that I can recognise bureaucrats on sight. Personally, I find it very easy. There is a certain aura bureaucrats have, one that seems to incite a mixture of suicidal and homicidal impulses in those forced to be around them I know it well.
The bureaucrat, an elderly Breton, started talking. "Ah yes, we've been expecting you."
Now that was worrisome. Expecting me? Since when was I important enough that anyone should be expecting me? I'd
been expecting something more on the lines of "I have no idea who you are or what you did and I don't particularly care. Off to X Imperial prison with you."
"My name is Socucius Ergalla," correction, an elderly Breton with delusions of being Imperial. Very sad, "and I am in charge of the Census and Excise office here in Seyda Neen. Now, you'll have to be recorded before you're officially released," he was continuing.
"Wait. Released?" I asked.
Ergalla, looked distinctly annoyed at having been interrupted. "Yes. Released. As I was saying, we prefer to record all incoming individuals to this island and-"
"You mean you're just letting me go
"I should have thought that would be obvious," he snapped, and unrolled a piece of paper. "I have the orders right here. 'By order of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, prisoner 103841's sentence is to be changed from ten years' imprisonment to exile in the province of Morrowind.' Now if you would let me continue..."
I shut up, not in order to comply with his instructions but because I found myself speechless.
The Empire doesn't
just shoo prisoners out the door with a "so sorry for the trouble, here, have fun in your new home." And what was this about 'by order of the Emperor'? I dearly hoped that that was some kind of bureaucratic formality, because although I had no idea why the Emperor himself might take an interest in me, one thing I was sure of it couldn't possibly be a good thing.
"Anyway. What is your name?"
"Adryn," I said for the second time that day.
Ergalla raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Just 'Adryn'? No family name?"
"No," I snapped.
"Hmm. Interesting." He scribbled something on a sheet of paper. "Your place of origin?"
"Do you mean the place I grew up in, the place I spent most of my life or the place I was living in last?" I asked.
He sighed deeply. "Origin," he repeated, as if that should make everything obvious.
"Try 'birthplace' if that's too complicated for you," the guard threw in.
I glared at him. Having my intelligence insulted by an Imperial guard, how low had I fallen? It was an honest bit of ambiguity, even if I was a little snide about it.
"In that case, Daggerfall." My tone was distinctly frosty.
"Really? I'd have said you have a bit of a Skyrim accent about you. It's in the vowels, you know." Much to my dismay, the guard had apparently decided to be talkative.
"Look, if you ask for birthplace I'll give you my birthplace," I said, utterly exasperated. "And considering I asked for clarification I would expect that any being more intelligent than pond scum would realise-"
Ergalla cleared his throat, not looking up from his papers. "This antagonistic attitude is entirely unnecessary, and is causing an unconscionable delay in processing. Cease it immediately." The guard smirked. I fumed. Quietly. "What is your profession?"
My profession? Well... let's see, what had people called me? Oh yes, there'd been thief, pickpocket, crook, good-for-nothing, 'damned demon of a dark elf'... I rather liked the sound of the last, truth be told. Probably not quite the thing to say if I wanted to stay out of prison, however. And there was one other, more respectable one that would be accurate. One that that had drawn me ever since I was a child, which I'd never mentally stopped calling myself even when doing so out loud got me only ridicule.
"Me? I'm an alchemist."
Ergalla gave me a penetrating look, and for a moment, I thought he would dispute that. But in the end, he simply 'hmm'ed and continued scribbling. The sheet would be full in less than a minute if he continued on that way.
"Would you say you specialise more in the arts of magic, those of combat, or those of stealth and speechcraft?"
"Magic." True, I could hide decently, had a quick tongue and was rather deft at picking pockets or locks however, I did mention trying to stay out
of prison and telling an Imperial official I was best at stealth was just under telling him I was a thief in terms of 'really really stupid ideas' when it came to that goal. Besides, it was genuinely a difficult question - I did have an interest in and knack for magic even if I was a little rusty.
As for combat? If you gave me a weapon, there was only one thing I could be sure of hitting. My foot.
"Ah yes. Now, what is your preferred weapon, your preferred armour, and what schools of magic do you specialise in?"
I gaped at him. "Excuse me, is all this really necessary?"
Ergalla looked wounded. "Of course it is! In order to allow us to gather data on immigration patterns and facilitate your rehabilitation-"
I blinked. The words he was using seemed to sprout more and more syllables. "How about you give me the forms and let me fill them out? Otherwise we'll be here all day."
He looked distinctly unhappy at that idea, but couldn't seem to think of a reason not to. He handed me the papers with a long-suffering sigh.
I handed them back some time later, now covered with writing, and massaged my hand. Although I could understand that the authorities on this island might want to know whether I was a potential axe-murderer, I remain puzzled as to why they need to know, for instance, precisely how high and far I can jump.
Ergalla took the papers back eagerly, looking over them with a jaundiced eye as if afraid I'd cursed them. After reading through them several times while I stood and fidgeted, he put them down onto the desk and faced me again.
"Very well. One more question if you please." I opened my mouth, prepared to protest what did they want to know now? My shoe size? I'd just about had it with this "processing" but Ergalla didn't give me a chance to say a thing.
"The letter that preceded you mentioned you were born under a certain sign. And what would that be?"
Letter? Was this the same letter in which the Emperor personally (possibly) ordered my release? And why on earth did the Empire care about my birth-sign, of all possible things? Unfortunately, Ergalla's expression seemed to promise a quick and messy end if I were to make any more trouble, so instead of making a fuss I just said meekly, "The Lover."
And was immediately reminded why I generally lie and claim to be Lady-born as the guard who was really, really far too gregarious for his own good started fighting a smirk. I shot him a glare that should, by rights, have frozen lava.
It seemed to have some effect; the guard composed himself with visible effort and mumbled "Sorry, m'lov- er, m'lady-"
He let out a high-pitched giggle and covered his face with one hand. I huffed. Why oh why could I not have been born one month later? The Lord seemed as if it would be a nice sign to have. Safe. True, all the Lord-born I knew complained about being very sensitive to heat... but I was a dark elf, I was sure I'd manage. Besides, I'd be willing to take on even a sun allergy if it meant not having to listen to any more jokes about 'dark elven promiscuity'... jokes, I should note, so lacking in anything resembling actual humour that even the tavern bards so bad their only pay comes in the form of airborne rotten vegetables would refuse to tell them out of professional integrity. In comparison to that, vampirism doesn't seem half so bad.
Ergalla ignored the guard's antics. "Interesting. Now, before I stamp these papers, make sure this is correct," he said to me.
I frowned of course it was correct, I was the one who had written it in the first place but scanned the paper anyway. I was about ready to get this "processing" over with, and judging by his expression, Ergalla was too. And it's a good thing I did; the fool had put my race down as Breton! Breton, I ask you. I don't want to know what low standards the Imperial Legion must have here; anyone who can't tell the difference between a Breton and a dark elf should not be in a position of importance.
He blinked at me owlishly when I pointed this out. "Ah, yes. But you are from High Rock?"
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Didn't we have this discussion already?"
He took the hint, scribbled something on the paper and handed it back to me. I looked over it suspiciously maybe he was claiming I was Argonian now or something; I wouldn't put it past him but everything seemed to be in order.
"All right, is that it?" I said, about to slip the paper into my pocket.
"Wait we need another copy for our records..."
Suicide was looking more and more appealing.This post has been edited by Kazaera: Aug 22 2010, 06:24 PM