Based on the races I was planning on modding into Morrowind.
Rapthyrs migrated to Morrowind in the Second Era. Most of the immigrants were comprised of the Red Rapthyrs species, finding comfort in the less humid, less fetid environment. Entire groups of Red Rapthyr families, called packs, arrived via ship. The “outbreak” of the Rapthyrs startled natives. Rapthyrs were never mentioned in formal scripture, or any kind of writing, or at least directly and nonmetaphorical. The Argonians mentioned “...foul, dragon-like demons... as temperamental as Daedra, as smart as the holy Hist, and as scheming as the soft-skins... they are not like us, having catlike eyes that glow in the dark... huge deadly talons... and warm blood... they are hostile in nature, and prefer seclusion from us... any attempted contact ends in physical conflict...they are similar to dragons, especially in their tendencies,” butmost of it was purely metaphorical. Imperials made one mention in an old, tattered journal in a fort in the Black Marsh. “[The Rapthyrs] are like the primitive lizardmen natives, the [Argonians] yet so unlike [them]. They come in three subspecies... and reside in packs of ten families or more...they are more avian than their Argonian cousins... having feathers and warm blood... but bear children like we do. Some arw upright like us [the Reds], some vary [the Greens and rare Blacks], and one species is entirely bent over [the Yellows]. We do not know how they came about...alas, there’s no doubt they were begat from Argonians... with their scaly hides, sharp claws, and general lizardly-shape,” the Imperials wrote, all of it mere speculation.
However, the Imperials were almost right. Rapthyrs are not direct ancestors of the Argonians. The Argonians evolved to the Troodontids, more often called the "Troglodites" or "Troglophiles" by the other races. They are much smaller than Rapthyrs, standing no taller than an adult Bosmer male. They were semi-endomorphic, being able to produce some of their own heat. They had featherlike scales on them that adorned their heads, armpits, and pubic regions, and in males, their cheeks and chins. It attracted mates, but also produced unnecessary heat due to the thickness of the scales. The most primitive Rapthyrs, the Yellow Rapthyrs, still resemble their Troodontid cousins, albeit taller. Rapthyrs have feathers. Though they still have scales, they are fully endomorphic, being able to produce their own heat completely. Despite being incredibly advanced, the Black Marsh was not a good environment for all the Rapthyr species. Red Rapthyrs migrated to Morrowind, Yellow Rapthyrs moved to Elsweyr, while the Green and Black Rapthyrs, completely adapted to their environment, stayed behind (though it is not to say a few migrated elsewhere).
Out of all the Red Rapthyr packs, the Matriarch, or the alpha female of all packs who runs the government, had migrated with her packs. She took the Tjianzal, or “the highest council,” comprised almost entirely of females mouths, except for four males, or Tjiamala, the highest males, who mostly govern the males. More often than not, the Tjiamala were the husbands of the Matriarch. The Matriach in this story is a large exception. She has not married in her fifty years of her rule, but begat seven children, only three of the offspring having the same father.
This story begins in the Third Era, many years after the great migration of the Red Rapthyrs to Vvardenfell. It starts with a young prince, the only son of the Matriarch, or the leader or “queen” of all the Red Rapthyran packs. This prince, Lerelixan, is eighteen years old, three years beyond the age when mothers pair their sons off with females of venerable status. His mother, Lorrellogo, is desperately searching for a proper mate for the Rapthyran lad. He is the highest ranked male, more so than the males in the Matriarchal Council. If his mother had not married, alack, he would not be the most powerful male. With this power, our little Lerelixan is constantly bombarded by female suitors.
Chapter One: An Unlikely Quest
“Lerelixan?” a fluid, soprano voice interrogated him in the dark. The young male Red Rapthyr opened his crystalline blue eagle-like eyes. He groaned. It was his mother, his tall mother of seven feet. In her clawed hands was a ceramic bowl of mush that appeared to be coagulated salstrice meal/boiled water mix. Steam still flew from the bowl in elaborate fronts. His mother frowned in the darkness. “Get up,” she demanded forcefully, her voice groggy and cranky, “you have new suitors to meet.” Lerelixan sat up, rubbing his eyes before grabbing the bowl hastily. “The spoon?” he asked gingerly, looking at the breakfast repugnantly. He hated the outlandish porridge his mother called polenta, but it was better than starving until brunch. His mother handed him a silver spoon. The prince muttered quietly, “Thanks.” Slowly he dipped the spoon into the mixture, his eyes full of uncertainty as he lifted the spoonful of porridge until his maw. It wasn’t the most appetizing meal to break fast, but certainly not the most disgusting. Once he was finished, his mother grabbed the dirty dishes.
The Red Rapthyr climbed out of bed and stretched. He was still a bit gangly, being around six feet tall, the largest male ever counted for in the Red Rapthyr society. His mother summoned his servant, a dainty female Khajiit who had escaped slavery. Thankfully, his mother left the room so he could get dressed.
“Does Lerelixan need anything besides fresh clothes? I am happy to assist you,” the Khajiit asked in her thick accent, blinking her pretty greenish yellow eyes. She was wearing an very expensive purple skirt with a pale pink silk blouse, as far as he could tell. The Rapthyr shook his head, replying sincerely, “No, no. I do not need anything else.” The Khajiit servant purred. Lerelixan wasn’t nearly as demanding as his mother.
The Khajiit watched as the dawn sun rose. The messy feathers of the Rapthyr was now in sight. Her eyes popped open. The prince was not to be untidy, not like he was like a boy at all. “You need water and a comb for that wily hair of yours. Your mother will have me pelt skinned if you keep your feathers like that,” the servant commented drolly as she hurried around his room, looking for a comb. She went through his drawers, made from Telvanni mushroom. The first drawer contained undergarments, socks, and a few amulets, rings, and hairclips. It also contained the mithril comb he inherited from his great-grandmother. The servant grabbed it and threw it at him. “I will fetch a bucket of fresh water for you, sera,” the Khajiit informed him while heading out of his room. He sighed, looking at the silver comb in his hand. It was incredibly light and strong, and shiny too.
He was interrupted in thought as the Khajiit sauntered in. The wooden bucket was full of water. More light had entered the room, and she could see his oily face. Almost in a scolding tone, she enlightened him, her hands on her hips, “Wash your face after you comb your unkempt hair. You looked like you were dipped in Dwemer oil, lad.” Lerelixan held his head down in half-embarrassment, half-shame. After sulking for a few seconds, he dipped the comb in the water, combing his hair gingerly. Lerelixan had no mirror in his room, so he used his hands to make sure his hair was fine. Once his hair was smoothed, he flung the fresh, chilly water into his face, careful not to wet his bed clothes before getting dressed. He looked at his reflection.
“I implore you. Slip some proper clothes on so we do not keep your mother waiting. She is the meanest kagouti in the morn. Make haste, so she does not chew the both of us out,” the Khajiit reminded the prince. He grunted, going through his drawers for good clean clothes. He picked up a very expensive robe he picked out last time he wandered the streets of the Telvanni headquarters, the name of the city in which it was contained he could never quite remember. It was olive green and black. It certainly made his scarlet scales look incredibly bright. It was proper for him to wear a robe, especially since he was a spellcaster.
When he had entered the den, he was overwhelmed. Three identical females, probably a year or two younger than himself, besieged him. All three were a few inches shorter than his mother with coppery shoulder-length feathers and brilliant green eyes. They weren’t exactly what Lerelixan would call “beautiful,” or even pretty. Cute was just about as far as it went. His mother scrutinized them, sitting in her chair, as he greeted each with a kiss on the cheek. She could already tell he didn’t like these young ladies. To be truthful, she didn’t like them much herself. They were too skittish, too giggly and frivolous to be a proper wife to her precious son.
The first of the bunch, wearing a properly fitted dress bowed to him. “Sir, ah, Lerelixan, I come here to court you, and hopefully be granted permission by both you and your dame to take your hand in marriage,” she told him in a squeaky little voice, her voice bouncing up and down. Her words were uneasy, too arrogant. Her manner certainly showed that as well. Her speech was incredibly curt and brisk, way too fast to be considered proper. Lerelixan had trouble keeping from twitching in loathe. Thankfully, the second was less annoying and quiet, “I’m the middle triplet, and I come to seek you.” Again, another insufficient “lady.” He was astonished at their lack of etiquette. He frowned as the last came up to him. Why, she practically strutted up to him! Definitely not an improvement over the first.
Her soft, sensuous voice spoke to him, “Here I come to seek you, to be granted marriage to you, Prince Lerelixan.” She took in a deep sniff of the air. Her impudence was also irritating his mother, which was a good thing. The wanton noble woman would no doubt be escorted out if she kept up flirting with him informally, and in such a crude manner. “That will be enough, girls. Make way to the guest rooms. Tonight you will be guests at our supper. We expect you to be dressed... appropriately,” she gazed at the last sister almost askew as she uttered, “and to arrive at seven of the clock to the point. Do not arrive any earlier,.” As the girls left, the prince could no longer hold his contemptuous smirk in.
“Quite an unworthy bunch, mother,” he mumbled, almost in a questioning way. He stared at his claws before sitting down next to his mother. The look she gave him told him he made an understatement. She retorted curtly, “Never have I seen such a pitiful bunch. Alack, we have to give equal oppoturnity to each noble woman. Likewise, we have to interview and house each one until the day is over. Do mind you will most likely have more tomorrow, hopefully better behaved-and mannered- ladies.” She sniffed a bit after her last sentence. “As always,” Lerelixan commented sardonically, grimacing. Day after day, he was greeted by more and more suitors. None of the, suited his tastes.
“As hard as it may be, do try to be amenable with them. They are, after all, nobles, too. Insulting any of them would not be judicious,” his mother reminded him with a placid tone, wagging her left index finger at him. As if they would ever say anything against the only male heir of the Matriach, Lerelixan thought with mirth and conceit. Indeed, he was often smug about this single issue, but the arrogance did not went without logic. Several males wanted him out of his position of having so much power. In fact, the daughters’ father had a grudge against the mere lad, but not even he couldn’t swallow his pride to have his daughters try for the hand of the Prince in marriage. Little did he know was the fact most likely, someone would try his rights as the sole Matriarch’s prince.
Lerelixan watched his mother click her neat talons click audibly on the wooden arms of the chair. She sighed wearily, looking at him with amber eyes of adoration. The prince smiled faintly at her. Right when the moment was becoming tender, the youngest of his six sisters, Arrganna, a mere girl of thirteen years wearing a simple crimson dress, stamped into the room, pouting. “Why are you not spending time with us, Mother?” she asked in a too innocent, slightly spiteful voice, her coppery feathers in her delicate baby face. The Matriarch, if she was in a worse mood, would roll her eyes at the child. “Arrganna, I need to spend time with your big brother, Leran, too,” Lorrellogo told her child softly, playing with the girl’s chest length hair with affection. By the wretched talons of Molag Bal, he hated being called Leran, the shortened, simplified version of his name. Leran sounded too snobbish.
Jaziena, the eldest sister of two decades, ambled in, a bit of her royal purple robe trailing behind her. Jaziena looked most like Lerelixan, having blond feathers but yellow-green eyes. Her facial structure was similar. She had a prominent chin, angled jaws, and large nostrils that always seemed flared. They shared the same father, though their mother had never cared to tell them who the sire was. She looked at her brother with curious eyes.
“Lerelixan, would you mind going to Ald’ruhn tomorrow to give Nareill this letter?” she requested of him, cocking her head, fingering the letter in her hand. Lerelixan groaned lightly to himself. He didn’t like going to Ald’ruhn. Ald’ruhn was boring. Sand, sand, all that was there was sand and the buildings that resembled the vast shells of insects. It was boring. If his mother didn’t worry so much, he would go to Balmora. Balmora was green, torn asunder into two sides by a cerulean river like schisms of the Temple. It was a Hlaalu town.
Finally, he succumbed to peer pressure, “Alright. I’ll do it, but it’s only because I have nothing better to do and you are my sister.” He took the letter from her hand, sniffing it for reasons unknown to himself. Rapthyrs had an acute sense of smell, more so than Khajiits or Argonians. Jaziena seized him from his seat and clutched to him, showering him in kisses. The prince almost convulsed in disgust and bewilderment. His mother did nothing but smirk the whole time.
Before he could pack a few things for his journey, his mother abruptly clued him, “You will have to go with a few servants.” He scowled. The forehead and brows of the prince wrinkled in confusion and anger. Lerelixan protested, “Mother, I’m old enough to carry a weapon. I was old enough when I was fifteen.” A growl emitted from his mouth. Lips of the almost full-grown boy quivered in rage, and his nose twitched slightly. He shared his temper with his mother. Lorrellogo massaged her forehead, as if smoothing out wrinkles. “Well, because I am your mother, I cannot tell you that you cannot. I do not want you to. If you get killed, there will be no immediate male heirs,” his mother notified him hesitantly, “The Tjiamala will make a decision. I can’t say it won’t be biased or prejudice, though. Go to them yourself and ask them. Your nurse will go with you.”
Lerelixan held back a boisterous grunt. The male council would most likely greatly disapprove of the proposal, and his mother knew that. His dame, to say at least, was incredibly difficult at times. He lifted out of the chair, searching for the Khajiit lady- his nurse-that took care of him. He first looked in the dining area. To his morbid luck, she was arranging flowers in a vase on the dining table made out of the richest mahagony-coloured wood. The Rapthyran prince took a deep breath before saying, “My dame wants you to escort me to the Tjiamala.” The sentence was simple enough. No elaboration was needed.
The moment Lerelixan walked into the yurt-like structure, his nostrils were filled with the pungent scent of incense, and his ears the murmurs of the council. The four shorter, scrawny-looking older males scrutinized him. He was hesitant to say his intentions. “Mothe- The Matriarch has sent me to be judge to see if I may go places without an accomplice.” Lerelixan bowed before the Tjiamala, acknowledging their, however minute, power over him. He then added keenly, “I hope you will judge me fairly.” Their amber and green eyes loomed over him like cliff-racers circling over a freshly deceased nix-hound. Lerelixan didn’t like the way he was being eyed. Their eyes were full of hidden rancour and envy. And such rapacious behaviour was strictly forbidden.
The tallest, and easily the oldest of the bunch, cleared his throat. He had exceedingly bright scales, adorned by brown stripes that ran from the back of his head to the tip of his lithe tail. The elder had blond, almost white feathers, with mean looking light grey eyes and an unusually angular jaw. There was a rumour going around that this one council member was his sire. He stood around five foot nine, which was actually quite gangly for a male Red Rapthyr. But that was an extra three inches that were unaccounted for. Male Red Rapthyrs did not usually inherit their mother’s height. “I think it would be unanimous among us that you are certainly capable of going by yourself,” he paused in his speech suspiciously, “But, if you are to come back, you must bring back ash salts and... a Daedra heart.” The council hushed instantly. While they certainly didn’t want this young, green male to go out strutting his abnormal, abominable amount of power, they didn’t want to kill the boy.
Lerelixan moved. He was positively irate. He knew there would be a catch, but for the sake of the Holy Father, Zarrexaij, he never included death in the equation. The servant gave him a sympathetic look. Why would they do this? He knew they didn’t like the jurisdiction he had. That was a very poor excuse for condemning him to death. Surely Zarrexaij was furious in his plane, glowering over the impudence and blasphemy of the extremely jealous Tjiamala. There was no way he could argue. Any questioning of their authority and he would be tried for treason most certainly. He doubt it would matter if he was a son of the Matriarch.
The tallest one motioned for him that it was now polite for him to leave. Lerelixan hid his anger as he ambled out of the yurt, with the Khajiit trailing behind him in her funny gait. Once he was out of the hearing range of the council, he snapped like a cheap rope. “That little moron that calls himself a council member deserves the wrath of Zarrexaij! His impudence should be punished by law, but I cannot say anything more or I am exiled!” he yelled at the Khajiit, she was cowering as he ranted on. His furious eyes became slightly softer. He apologized sheepishly, “I’m sorry for scaring you.” His nurse gave him an understanding nod.
And thus began the first step of the quest of a prince.
Note: Zarrexaij was very much immortal before becoming the consort. ;-)
Zarrexaij was born of a Black Rapthyran mother, Tarrana. Tarrana was a prostitute of Molag Bal, and it is rumoured she even made love to him in Oblivion. It is said in mere whispers that Zarrexaij is the son of Molag Bal the Prince of Rape. Only Molag Bal and Tarrana know themselves. However, Tarrana did not live long. Upon giving birth to the babe, the babe was tooken away from her. The Black Rapthyran woman was then strapped to a wooden stake in the middle of the village and burnt alive. She had committed the greatest of heresy: she had cursed them by having physical contact with their Great Terrible Creator. A mark was left on Zarrexaij that would be known as the Mark of the Acursed. This Mark was on his right cheek. It was not a friendly mark. Instinctively, the Shaman knew that it was a bad omen. However, they could not destroy him. Harming him would bring even more evil to the Pack.
Zarrexaij was hesitantly raised by the Shaman. The Shaman taught him how to read and write Daedric, Rapthyran, and the common language. Zarrexaij was not allowed the priveledge of a formal education. It was feared that he would create destruction and chaos in the classroom. Magic was also prohibited. Since he was supposed to be half-Daedra, he was also very powerful magically. The secrets of the boy was kept from him to keep him from fleeing. They did not keep him for long, however. When he hit puberty at his thirteenth year, they shunned him, and never allowed him back. The piteous Black Rapthyran boy had to live in the wild.
Out in the wilderness, the honoured user Child was able to learn magic and self-defense on his own. He became an expert at fighting and using magic, particularly Destruction and Mysticism. He spent a year on his own, hunting and gathering food. Then, he was captured by a rival Argonian tribe in the Black Marsh, and kept as a prisoner of a shapeless, silent war. For a decade, he sat in the prison, pacing around the cell, given little food or water. Finally, on his twenty-third birthday, the Imperial Legion had found him, and taken him under his wing. A Green Rapthyr had been found in a cell nearby. Her name was Geruweda. She gave him his name, "Zarrexaij," the Noble Hunter. Zarrexaij despaired as he found out the truth. His species was nearly extinct because of the Great Rapthyran War that ensued while he was captured.
With the Green Rapthyran Shaman, they came to Morrowind. Lonely as ever, the Noble Hunter treked across the province, only finding unrest. He came across a large city, the grandest city had ever seen. It was there a cryptic being had said to him, "Do not despair, Zarrexaij. You are here for your people." The stranger had disappeared in a blink of an eye. To this day, the Noble Hunter has no clue who this messenger was. Zarrexaij settled on one of the many islands to the south, and created a temple based around their reverence of the Lady of Dawn and Dusk to give Morrowind a flavour of Rapthyran society. The Red Rapthyrans who migrated greeted him with open arms. His fellows grew in strength. He would not be known as a deity, until one day had came.
An intrusion had happened in his temple. A bunch of crazed lunatics attacked them with clubs and magic, sending the temple to rubble. Zarrexaij was cornered next to the altar he had set up. A spear sliced his heart. In a last bold attempt to get rid of the intruders, he set an image in his mind. With a yawp, he vanished. He vanished to what seemed to be nowhere. He had been given fatal wounds.
Zarrexaij's eyelids were heavy. It felt like stones were hung from them. He tried wriggling his face. No avial. The Black Rapthyran felt his muzzle with his large hands. It was bandaged. Panicked, he tried peeling it off. A sinuous, lithe, wonderful voice entered his eardrums. Do not be frightened, Zarrexaij, it had told him. It calmed him down. He felt warm, wonderfully warm hands peel the bandages from him. Ah, he could finally see. Looking up with his pale eyes, he saw the "person" who rescued him. His scaled face turned tallow.
"Surely you recognize your Lady?" she interrogated curiously, mirth showing on her face. It took a moment or two to realize whom, or really, what he was starring at. "I do," he grunted under his breath feebly. He attempted to lift himself from the bed. Abruptly he was pushed down. "I've been taking care of you for ten days now. Even now, you are not strong enough to go out on your own. There are many dangers here," Azura spoke to him softly. A quizzical countenance formed on the Rapthyrans face. Oh dear, where was he? Then he realized, that if she was talking about dangers, he must have been in Oblivion. Or somewhere.
Zarrexaij had never even seen her avatar. This was no avatar. It was Azura herself, the pallid shoulderblade length hair, the pale skin, everything. He knew it was just a projection... but it was so real. Here was she now, sitting on the corner of the comfortable bed. Was reality ebbing on him? No, this was not reality as he knew it. It was an area, a projection the Daedroth Lord called "home." It sure was a home, and it was also a house, ableit one with very Daedric archetecture.
Zarrexaij had spent the night in that bed with Azura. To his horror, he had discovered he had been changed. He was not longer a weak mortal. The Daedra to him had been unleashed. He would become more immortal every year, until the year he was nearly as powerful as the Daedra Lords himself. He had also recieved more Daedra blood that would be spurged into him infrequently. It would be enough to prevent him from meeting his complete death.
Maybe it was just a coincidence this had happened. Zarrexaij could only ponder why this had happened. Of course, Azura knew. She was literally all-knowing. Azura knew his fate. She knew the exact day his anniversary for his birthday was. Would he be like that? Oh, great gods of mercy! His world was spiraling around him in a vertigo. His icy gray eyes, now burned white, saw the world much crisper. Colour sang, and sound had a hue of its own. Senses had intermingled. Hope had left him. He would not fit in as he so desperately wanted. If his life would be more isolation, he would find an end to it. So soon had this occured that it was driving him mad!
Forever and ever, Zarrexaij would just be a honoured user Child. He weeped, a bloody tear running across his birthmark on his face. Was this, THIS how it would be? Why? Why in the name of Azura had this happened to him? Was he not innocent? He had lived his life, ever lonesome in the neverending dismals on Argonia. Cursed Rapthyrs, cursed Molag Bal and altering his ancestors! He damned everything straight to the lowliest, most hellish place in Oblivion to be created.
The only thing he was living for was his unborn children, his purpose, and his race, not that he could die easily, anyway.
Chapter Two: The Crystal Rose
Zarrexaij laid lazily in bed, looking up at the ceiling of the Daedric ruins he called home. It had been four hundred and ninety-seven years since the most unforgettable event in his life happened. It wasn’t his “fling” with Azura. The climax wasn’t being granted immortality. No, it was something much more outlandish than that. It involved a delicate crystal rose, a rainy, stormy night, and the Touch of a certain infamous noble....
The day had started out so bright and cheery. It had been months since he had spiraled out of Oblivion onto Mundus. Ever since he returned to the mortal world... everything seemed freakishly normal. Dressed in a silk formal shirt and trousers, he scrutinized himself in the mirror. His hair went from being a brilliant ruby red to a lesser intensity hue similar to magenta. The slightest touch of gray was invading his precious hair. Redheaded Black Rapthyrs were rare; Black Rapthyrs with vivid blue eyes were even rarer. Zarrexaij possessed both traits, and this made him highly desirable among the Black Rapthyran ladies. His scales were still a bright, glossy off-black. He loved how thin and lanky he looked in black. He was already seven feet tall, but looking taller was good. The ladies like tall, strong men like himself.
Good old Zarrexaij ambled over to his candle and lit it. It allowed more light into the room, and revealed his comfy bed, the rich oak drawer, the expensive rug, and the closet. This was his pad outside of Blacklight in the Highlands. It would be hundreds of years before he would move into Vvardenfell. The Black Rapthyr let out a great sigh before moving into the hallway and into the kitchen. There, he heated up a small cauldron full of water in the burning fireplace. The kitchen smelt of the firewood. It was a comforting smell that reminded him this was his home. As the water began to boil, he took something from the cupboard and poured a small pouch of it in. It was pennyroyal tea. The scent of the dried flowers filled the room as it slid into the boiling water. Zarrexaij licked his dry, lizard-like lips.
After five minutes of letting it soak, he carefully put out the fire. The cauldron wouldn’t cool for a while, so he took a pot and dipped it in it, his hands on the handle. He caught a great deal of the tea, but none of the pennyroyal fragments. He loved his tea strong and flavoured with refined sugar, or moonsugar distilled to the point it no longer has hallucinogenic effects. Speaking of sugar, he got out a lump and put it in a dainty little porcelain tea cup. He sipped on it pensively, thinking about what he would do for today. Hmm. Well, he hadn’t paid his old Master Shaman a visit in a long time. He had truly loved her, and hadn’t seen a wink of her in a decade.
Zarrexaij had remembered how far it was to her dwelling. She lived in a reclusive place between Blacklight and Cormaris View. It had been so long since he smelt her corvine black hair. She had such a gentle, compassionate face. She was so lovely, with her beautiful dark emerald scales that shone like tears in the light. He missed her kiss. He missed her sweet soprano voice. Zarrexaij missed tracing patterns on her delicate belly plating. If only... if only she was here. If she was here, everything would be okay. Geruweda... darling little Geruweda... where did she go? Why didn’t she wait for him? Thinking about her made his guts twist and contort greatly.
Nostalgia was a disease for him. Ever since he was granted the magical umbilical cord, everything had changed. He suddenly felt terrified and poignant. Zarrexaij felt out of control. He didn’t like to be out of control of his destiny. Alack, his destiny was in the hands of the Daedric Princes themselves. He frowned in thought. His life was just becoming deeper, and darker, of course. And he had no control over it...
He made his decision. He would take a carriage out to the grove she lived in the evening. The Noble Hunter wanted his time to collect himself. The young Rapthyr didn’t want to be gloomy for his lover. Besides that, she also didn’t wake up until almost three in the afternoon. Zarrexaij was an early morning person, getting up at the crack of dawn and going to bed at the birth of dusk. After his morning stretch and jog, he finished his pennyroyal tea. Pennyroyal tea was always delicious, cold or piping hot, and everywhere between the extremes.
After breaking his fast of a simple meal of tropical fruits form the Black Marsh, a sweet roll, and a bit of sausage, he headed out the door for Blacklight. It wasn’t a very long walk. It took about five minutes to stroll there, and it wasn’t that bad of a stroll. The scenery was nice, and it was always placid. Well, save for the occasional rogue or bandit. He was bothered occasionally by them, but they always ran off with torn armour or clothes. In these parts, he was a legend. Not only was he a skilled spellcaster, but he was also the toughest fighter around.
The scenery was always exotic for him. The trees were almost always evergreen, rarely deciduous. The elevation was a little high, but that made the air even crisper and the water clearer. Instead of grass, there were exotic, burgundy ferns. They were very elegant, but sadly were not around for long. All of them died out as soon as the first frost came. A little bit of Heather or Stoneflower could be found now and then. The fauna was just as peculiar to him. The Highlands were full of mountain deer, wild pigs, and, supposedly, wolves. Zarrexaij had never seen a wild wolf in his life.
The city of Blacklight made Zarrexaij spin giddily. It was so vast! Blacklight was like an immense anthill. Each ant was an individual, but united the ants act as an individual. It was a living, breathing creature. It consumed, it slept, and it even blathered like a person. Not that Blacklight was evil. It was eerie for such a large town, but Azura forbid it, it wasn’t malevolent. Zarrexaij just thought it as something like the Daedric Lords; it’s not really “evil,” par say, but not really “good,” either. With every major source of power, it had its corruptions, its bastardizations, its deep, dark secrets.
The Noble Hunter walked into the Blacklight Mage’s Guild with a frown on his face. The stewardess, Dunmeri Iana, stood up, a smile alit on her face. Iana was a very pretty young Dunmeri girl. She had gorgeous ashen gray skin, impossibly dark black hair, and those irresistible cunning red eyes. Zarrexaij respected her quite so. The lass was an adept mage that was full of surprises. To make matters better, she was his age. Iana was wearing an exquisite royal violet robe that brought out her eyes and her shoulder length hair. Her eyes followed the lanky Rapthyr as he sauntered on over to her.
“Good morn, Serjo. You look great today! I’ve never seen you so... jubilant before,” she greeted him warmly, leaning against her desk which was covered in parchment. Zarrexaij grinned, feeling almost a bit sheepish at her flirting. “Thank you, Iana. Anything new?” he asked politely, stepping closer to her. He loved towering over her and having to make her look up. She was about five foot five and rather delicate. It was almost to the point they were touching. Zarrexaij was now sure the guild was watching the two court each other.
“Nothing much. Same old song, same old dance,” she informed of him, turning around and rummaging through papers, “Well, it’s old news, but today is the summoning day of Sheogorath. Haven’t been too many summonings of the Daedric Prince today.” Zarrexaij lifted a scaly eyebrow. Was it this soon? Perhaps he wouldn’t feel so alienated if he would keep up to date on, well, the dates. Bored, he turned himself around, looking for the Summoning Room. Now... if he could remember the ritual for summoning the Daedric Prince of Madness....
Before he could open the door, a curious voice twitched in his ears. “You’re actually going to summon Sheogorath?” the voiced interrogated, almost accusingly. Zarrexaij stopped in his tracks. He felt ham and irritated. Letting out a deep, agitated sigh, he faced the much smaller Bosmeri male apprentice and riposted, “Yes. Why not? It’s not like Sheogorath will bite my fingers off and use them as backscratchers.” The brunette Bosmeri male recoiled from the Black Rapthyr. Turning the doorknob slowly, as if anticipating something lethal behind the doors, he entered the room.
He rubbed his hands together anxiously. When the door was closed, he organized the necessary tools for summoning the Daedra. He was a meticulous man. Everything had to be right. He could have easily spent hours making everything perfect. Unusually, he felt impatient. His great need to summon the Daedric Princes was now. He didn’t feel like waiting a year. He didn’t feel like waiting for a damned thunderstorm. Either he summoned Him now, or it would be close to never. After the final touch, he started the ritual.
Zarrexaij blinked his large azure eyes. Nothing had happened, or at least that he knew of. Scowling, he looked around the room for the slightest trace of the god. The astute Rapthyr heard nothing. He smelled nothing. He could see nothing. Shrugging, he headed out of the room, oblivious to the events that would happen later. The Black Rapthyr felt disappointed. Apparently, he did an erroneous ritual. No matter. He would try again. Sometime, somewhere.
The guild stewardess saw the scowl on his face. She felt herself frowning. “What’s wrong?” Iana questioned sweetly as he padded over to her. “I couldn’t summon the damned Daedric Lord. I did the ritual to every particular. No avail,” he replied, staring into her beautiful eyes. Iana paused for reflection. A look on her face made him inquisitive, but he was much too lazy to be concerned with it. “Oh,” she replied, “That’s odd. Never had that happened before.” Something told him she knew, but just didn’t want to tell.
Zarrexaij sat down in the middle table in the library. Everyone was busy studying for their journeyman exam. Well, nearly everyone, except him. He was just above the Journeyman rank. This was fortunate. The exams were horrid. Journeymen and women bickered constantly over it. Some went straight to stealing reports. Thankfully, people were too terrified of Zarrexaij in his Journeyman rank a few years ago and decided to leave him alone. Not that their phobia of him ever subsided. Even still, everyone around him was busy in toil. Of course, it’s obvious who wasn’t busy.
After dozing off in the library for about four hours, he woke up as someone poked him. It was Andorlin, an Altmeri sorcerer. “Wake up. You’ve been snoring- loudly, at that-for about four hours now,” he said in his deep, rough, sophisticated voice. Zarrexaij jumped as the voice hit his ears. The Black Rapthyran stretched in his chair while feeling cramped. He yawned and subsequently shown off all his sharp, gleaming white teeth. The High Elf felt a little intimidated. He knew very well how erratic Zarrexaij was when he was groggy.
“Thanks for waking me up, Andorlin,” he remarked without sarcasm, looking out the windows. It was a little past the middle of the day. There were a few whispy clouds in the sky. “My pleasure,” the Altmeri replied. He tone was hidden, but it seemed severely sarcastic. Zarrexaij didn’t know. He needn’t dare to ask. That would be rude. Zarrexaij looked into the golden-skinned elf’s warm brown eyes before standing up and weaseling his way out of the chair. He pushed the chair in, looking for any mar on his clothes. None. Not even dust or dandruff obscured his beautiful clothes.
Andorlin wandered towards the bookshelves and rummaged for a book. “Zarrexaij, have you read the newest edition to our vast library? It’s called ‘The Takers.’ It’s about your kind. I can’t tell you how accurate it is, though,” he said whilst frowning as he looked at the pages. Zarrexaij lifted his head up towards the Altmeri. “Who is it written by?” he interrogated curiously, raising an eyebrow and cocking his muzzle. Andorlin shrugged. The Black Rapthyran glowered. Rapthyrs also had their names in the books. They were not afraid to use their real names.
“You seem irascible today,” the journeyman stated blandly, blinking his wise brown eyes. Zarrexaij rolled his sapphire blue eyes. Yeah, he was irascible all right. He was so irate that Andorlin couldn’t find out who the stupid author was. Presumptious git. “I’m not irritated, or grumpy. I was just expecting it to be written by someone actually educated in Rapthyran culture,” Zarrexaij replied sincerely. Under his breath, Zarrexaij began to sing:
“Lereli-xan, the King of the Rapthyrs
Whom carried us all with his wife’s womb
From the West and East came our Captors
To set us in our resting tomb
Set us free, my Lord, set us free
Thou has the strength and bravery
Let them hear and see
The truth of their slavery”
It was an archaic Rapthyran bard song. Andorlin eyed the Rapthyr in interest.
“It’s called ‘Lerelixan the Brave,’” Zarrexaij informed him amiably, “It was dedicated to the first Rapthyran Monarch. Lerelixan is now a very common name for Rapthyran boys, particularly Red Rapthyrs. Lerelixan was, afterall, a Red Rapthyr. Lerelixan means literally at least ‘Male Warrior.’ Of course, in Black and Red Rapthyran society, male warriors are heresy.” His listener nodded. Andornil handed him the book. Then, he asked Zarrexaij, “Why don’t you read it for yourself?” He, Zarrexaij, shrugged and seized the book.
Grumbling to himself, he sat in another chair, this time one slightly less comfortable. He crossed his legs as he delicately opened the book. It smelled very fresh. He swore if he rubbed on the ink it would smudge. He scanned the first page, and found it surprising. The book read:
‘The Rapthyrs are generally regarded as mysteries and as threats. In Dunmeri society, they are greatly feared for their remarkable resemblance to their supposed Creator, Molag Bal. Argonians loathe them because the Rapthyrs betrayed them a long time ago. Their most interesting racial relationships are with the Khajiit. They do not bother each other. The relationship is usually that of an understanding. Many Rapthyran martial arts were based off the Khajiiti styles. Similarly, the Khajiiti have also adapted the Rapthyran way of dancing. Rapthyrans are known best not only for their nimble monks, but also for their elaborate, energetic, albeit very dangerous dances.
The first thing to know about Rapthyrs is the fact they are not reptiles, despite their scales. They seem to be in an ambiguous group. They have strange fine, hairlike feathers on their bodies, give birth to live young, and are warm-blooded like us. These adaptations are surprising due to their home of origin. All Rapthyrs were originally from the Black Marsh, which leads many to believing they are related to Argonians. There is evidence for it, but you have to look back at the Rapthyran ancestors, the Troodontids, to see much of it. Unfortunately, the Troodontids are extinct. Thus, it’s nearly impossible to prove Rapthyrs are related, no matter how distantly, to the Argonians.”
Zarrexaij nodded to the book as it went on. It was rather short for him, being only ten pages in length, but it was an excellent read for anyone uneducated in the ways of the Rapthyrs.
“Indeed, it’s accurate,” Zarrexaij declared humbly. He sat back in his chair, staring at the book cover. It seemed to melt as his eyelids slowly encased his eyes. Right before he went to sleep. he could have sworn he heard a tiny little voice. It was a comforting voice. It was a deep voice. The voice made him feel full. He felt that he needed to be one with this voice. Everything at that moment was clear, yet obscured at the same time. He wanted that voice. Zarrexaij wanted the someone or something that produced that voice.
As he slid into a shallow sleep, he felt something briefly brush against him. Moisture formed firmly on his head. It felt like a kiss. A sensuous kiss at that. Zarrexaij knew it had happened, yet he didn’t wake or stir. Instead, he smiled, and sighed contently in his sleep. The Black Rapthyran felt protected for once. His dreams were of outlandish things. Brightly coloured skies, dully coloured people. It was all so surreal. Yet, somehow, this dream was real. In the side of the mind that was somehow still away, it knew that this dream contained something hideously “real.”
A groggy Zarrexaij lifted his eyelids. They felt extremely heavy. It was almost as if they were made out of pure iron. Once he opened them, he yawned. Outside, he could see dusk was being birthed. The sky was in labour. He stood up and stretched. Not many other people were here right now. He felt eyes on him. Something was there. He couldn’t see it, but it was there. That thing was there. That gentle, kissing, carnal thing was there with him. Zarrexaij felt sad, knowing that this beautiful thing was hidding itself from him.
It was evening, and thank Azura for that. He would get that damned carriage and go to that damn grove where she lived. It was about time he got to that. When he stepped out of the Mage’s Guild, he had noticed it had became incredibly cloudy. He could not see a single star, nor the full moons. It would surely storm tonight with the massive, gluttonous thunderheads. The Black Rapthyr admired it with his special ebony staff. He loved the staff. It made him look scholarly, and, more important, sophisticated. Rapthyrs were far too often seen as stupid, barbaric beasts.
With him, he carried a crystal rose in a pouch. It was protected.
The man in the carriage gazed over him curiously as Zarrexaij made his way to him. “I need to get to a grove between here an’ Cormaris View. I can show it to you as we go along,” Zarrexaij told him, looking up at the young Dunmeri man. The Dunmeri shook his head “yes” and offered him to come in. The carriage would cost five septims to go to and from. It wasn’t expensive because of the near location.
Zarrexaij sighed contently. He took the rose out of the pouch, and stared at it. It glimmered ardently in the feeble light. It was so gorgeous. The crystal rose was the epitome of beauty. It was so fragile, shy, and comforting. There was something about the crystal rose that made it such a comfort. Perhaps it was its realism in its fantasy. It could be that it had hidden feelings of its own, kind of like how it would crumble if you treated it poorly, or it would break if you gripped it too tightly. Roses represented love. So what did crystal represent?
Thunder growled biosteriously in the sky. Zarrexaij cursed to himself. It would be all muddy, and he didn’t want to lose his precious wooden sandals. Rain poured down like the tears of a fair, abused maiden. It twisted and turned Zarrexaij. It reminded him of the Swamp. The rain reminded him of the Swamp! He was poignant. A knife had wriggled its way into his heart and turned inside him. It was almost if it was being done intentionally. But by what or by whom? That was the question of the day.
Finally, he saw a worn sign. It read “Ald Veradda.” Yes, this was it. Zarrexaij took in the deapest breath of his life. Climp, clomp, clomp. The clickings and tickings of the horses’ hooves clinged desperately to his eardrums. The subtle beat of the rain ricocheted in his mind. Everything became metallic. Everything was excelled. Everything was... was... intense. Zarrexaij swore he could hear blood pumping madly in his arteries.
Then he saw her. It was her, in a thin, damp gown. Her green scales glistened and glowed in the torchlight of the torches that lined the cobblestone pathway. Zarrexaij felt something hollow out his insides. “Geruweda, my Geruweda, I’ve come back for you!” he shouted in the carriage, dashing out of it. He was careful not to damage the rose. The rain pounded even harder on the ground. Lightning flashed violently and prophetically in the sky, scuttling around the clouds like a little lost child. Zarrexaij stood before her, lost with his words.
He leaned forward to kiss her, but he withdrew. He bit his fingers, the look in his eyes sad. Geruweda shed a tear, her face turning all pouty. The Rapthyran woman gave him an interested look. It was indecisive. She didn’t know what she wanted. Finally, she decided. Geruweda gave him an askew look, and darted into the darkness. Zarrexaij’s mouth flew wide open. His pretty eyeballs nearly popped out of their sockets. Insolent, ungrateful little swine! Ten years only to return to a harlot...
He started sobbing, dropping the crystal rose as he held his head. “Geruweda! I loved you! I LOVED YOU! Come back! Come back!” he pleaded pathetically, whimpering. He looked towards the ground, petulant he dropped the rose. All of the sudden, it turned into a real, white, rose. Then it withered. The Voice chortled at Zarrexaij, who was now on his knees. “Pathetic. Utterly pathetic. I would have never expected you to be so faithful when you hide your lust, and even more so, your rage,” it said, scoffing at the concept of groveling over someone for love. Zarrexaij slowly looked up. the thunder rolled, and the lightning scratched the sky.
“Oh, Vehk no,” Zarrexaij whispered, horrified. Horrified, indeed. It was Daedric Lord Sheogorath himself, standing under the trees. Not a drop of rain had hit the Prince of Madness. In the shadows, he lifted an eyebrow at the Black Rapthyran and said, “Hmm. I could have sworn you were a Daedra worshipper. Or is that another one of your inane little guises? You must be petrified of your origin. So what? Your excuse to shy away vacuously from it will always be, ‘Daddy didn’t love me, and Mummy died because she was a hare!’” The Black Rapthyran growled lowly at the Daedric Lord, clenching his fists lividly.
The Banker chuckled even more. “Your defensiveness will most likely be your downfall, my dear,” was the riposte. Sheogorath stepped closer to Zarrexaij, which made the Black Rapthyran even more uneasy. Even though he easily towered over the avatar, he still felt horribly small. Finally, the Rapthyr fell on his buttocks, wincing as it smarted. The most feeble, minute voice was emitted from his maw. “Don’t... hurt... me... Lord... Sheo....go....rath,” he shuttered terribly, shaking his knobby knees. He saw the Daedric Lord smirk. “Why, what e’er made you thing I would harm you? Perhaps torture you, but not physically harm you. Directly, that is. Stand up, you overgrown draconian lizard, and beware not to brush yourself off. There’s mud all o’er you. I almost pity you.”
Zarrexaij felt a lump fill his throat. He swallowed. Gradually, he stood up. The Black Rapthyran wobbled on his feet. He felt like vomitting on everything. The Daedric Prince’s grin grew wider. Zarrexaij was entirely still. In a brief moment, he found himself stuck in an embrace. He twitched as he felt the warm, soft lips connect with the Black Rapthyrans warm... slightly dry ones. He did not sputter. It was mildly sensual, like he expected. But the grip was longer than usual. He suspected that after the long embrace he would have a strong touch of insanity.
Finally, Sheogorath let go of the lanky Black Rapthyran. The Black Rapthyrn’s upper cheek and nose was still twitching. He still has that tic to this day. “Ha ha! I shall do that to you more often. The reponse from you is so amusing. It’s not disgust, but hidden pleasure. Well, so much for the blather, I’ll have to go back to Oblivion. It certainly was enjoyable following you around and reading your outlandish little thoughts. Though, I’m positive we shall meet again.” The Daedric Lord vanished in thin air. Zarrexaij twitched. The storm had abruptly stopped.
What a classically screwed up day.
I'm currently pondering on what to write for the third Prologue. They are backstories, so you can understand the chapters that succeed it.