Thank you Olen. It is not just Witchcraft I am using as a basis though, but Core-Shamanism in general. My goal here is to develop Teresa into a similar spiritual mindset as you might find in a Native American, Inuit, or Zulu, Native Australian, etc... person.
The line about not knowing what a Witch really is was actually a dig I could not resist taking against Bethesda, who cannot decide what a Witch is in their games, but love to throw the word around. Daggerfall has lots of Witch covens, and they seem to be people who summon and worship Daedra in that game. The Western Reach of High Rock is said to be inhabited by Witchmen because of their magical abilities. Skyrim's Wtiches seem to be people who take men's clothing. In Bloodmoon they have Witches who do not seem to summon Daedra, but are instead there to cure you of lycanthropy. In Oblivion one cures you of vampirism. In those games Daedra summoners and worshipers are not called Witches, otherwise Mankar Camoran and the entire Mythic Dawn would be Witches. Same with all those people camped out at the Daedric shrines. For that matter, the Nerevarine too, being that he/she is essentially an agent of Azura. ureniashtram:
Thank you uren. You are on the right track about Tsume. He is one of the main characters from the anime Wolf's Rain
. I am not sure what you are referring to that was so horrible in your searches though. When I googled the name I get a bunch of Wolf's Rain
references. Unless you mean the slash fiction, one of those side-effects of having a lot of straight female fans...Winter Wolf:
Thank you Wolf. I have not really gone deeply into the spirituality stuff yet. I have tried to make sure it fits snugly into the ES universe. Hopefully it will fill a gap that was long left empty.
Except for the one where Teresa sees Martin and the others, the dream sequences were entirely taken from my own personal experiences.D.Foxy:
I take it that you know Tsume from the slash... haute ecole rider:
Do not forget women who have sex with whomever they want, and even more shockingly, refuse to have sex with those they do not want.
The history buff in you prompted me to go back and do some rewriting of the next part of the chapter. Otherwise I was just going to gloss over all of that. So once again people's comments do directly influence what I write. minque:
Thank you minque. Teresa is meant to be one of those characters who slowly grows on you, and (hopefully) draws you in as she slowly discovers the world, and her own hidden strengths. Destri Melarg:
You had me laughing with the part about the stew! Thankfully for Teresa, the whole cannibalism thing is something I am not using, at least not for the vast majority of Bosmer. You can indeed dare to say that she has found a mentor instead.
btw. keep your eyes peeled for your appearance in the TF below!All:
This one will run a bit long. Blame h.e.r. for her history lesson!
* * *Chapter 8d - The Witch of Lake Trasimene
"You mean the whole slavery thing?" Teresa said with a furrowed brow, "but that was a long time ago."
"Not just slavery," the Witch said after taking another sip of tea. "The Ayleids sacrificed them to the Daedric Princes, in return for Daedric soldiers to serve in their armies. If that were not bad enough, they also used human souls to create their great enchantments, then animated the bodies to serve them even in death. All of those great cities of theirs are built upon the bones and devoured souls of millions of humans, Khajiit, and Argonians."
"The Ayleids used their souls?" Teresa asked, trying not to remember what she had seen in the ruin.
"Yes, there is a great deal of magical energy bound up within our souls. The very divinity within us." Morcant said with a sour expression on her face. "That energy can be taken if the soul is destroyed. Death of the body is natural, allowing the spirit to return to the Otherworld and prepare for rebirth. Yet there is no afterlife, no rebirth, nothing, after that."
"That's monstrous!" Teresa blurted out, nearly spitting out her tea.
"Yes, it is." Morcant stared down at her own cup before raising her eyes back to Teresa's. "Because of that, in the end even Nirn itself wanted them dead."
The two of them sat in silence for long moments. What would it be like, to have your soul taken and destroyed? she wondered. How could someone do that to another?
"So did the Ayleids have spirit-guides too then?" she asked. "If they did, now could they do those things?"
"They did, at least at first," Morcant sighed. "But they turned away long before the end. At one time all of our race followed not only what are now called the Nine Divines, but all the Nirn Spirits. The Dunmer stopped when they went to Morrowind. Then the Altmer when they got so self-important that mere spirits of the land, sea, and sky were beneath them. Only we Bosmer still keep the Old Ways, and honor those beings that sacrificed their all to create our world."
"You make it sound like they died?" Teresa said, finishing her tea and looking across the room at the cinnamon rolls on the table. Following her eyes, the Witch rose to her feet and brought the plate over so that Teresa could lift another to her lips.
"They did, in a manner of speaking," Morcant explained. "When Lorkhan persuaded the other gods to create our world, he did not tell them how much it would cost them. Many gave every last bit of their energy, and ceased to be. At least in the way they once were. Instead they literally became this world. The trees, the rocks, the mountains, everything... The wood in the chair you are sitting in, even the air you breathe, is part of those divine spirits. As are you and I."
"But that would make us all gods!" Teresa mumbled through a mouthful of cinnamon.
"Yes, we are all divine, as is the world we live in." Morcant sat back down in the chair across from Teresa. "Now you see why they call me a Witch…"
Teresa nodded. She imagined most Imperials would not like hearing that one bit. All they ever did was go on about how high and mighty the Nine Divines were. Anyone who didn't bow and scrape to them was a heretic in their eyes.
"So what about spirit-guides, like Raven?" she asked. "Are they these spirits, that became the bones of the world then?"
"Now you are catching on," Morcant said. "They are not individual beings anymore. They are the forces of nature. So we cannot physically speak to them as we can the Nine or the Daedric Princes. It is only our Lower Selves that know them, what the Imperials call our unconscious. We know them in dreams - mythic poetry - buried in the divinity that is within us."
Teresa nodded. Now it was all making sense. The strange dreams, the way she had sometimes just known things. Everything, well, almost at least.
"So how come I never met my spirit guide before?" she asked as she licked the last remnant of sticky frosting off her fingers. "It wasn't until a month ago that I started having the dreams, and seeing ravens and crows everywhere."
"Did you ever actually stop and pay attention before?" Morcant asked pointedly. "Or were you too wrapped up your mundane life to notice? It takes two to dance you know."
Teresa felt her cheeks grow warm, and looked down at her empty tea cup. "I guess not," she mumbled. "Sometimes it seems like I was not even alive until a month ago."
"Maybe you were not," Morcant suggested. "We all go through many metaphorical deaths and rebirths as we pass from one phase of life to another, from childhood to adulthood, from student to teacher, and so on. You might find a different spirit-guide coming to you every time you go down a new path. Or you might have the same one all of your life. They may not be the guides that you expected, or wanted, but they are always what you need."
"So tell me about Raven?" Teresa asked. "He leads people places doesn't he, and warns them of danger?"
"Oh yes, you know him well indeed," the other woman said, now rising to her feet and stepping to the hearth. Dipping the ladle into the stew, she lifted it to her lips and took a cautious sip. A smile crested her features, and she swung the pot from the fire and carried it to the table with a pair of thick hand-cloths. Teresa followed, and sat beside the older woman as she spooned out two bowls of the steaming liquid.
"Raven knows the secrets of transformation, of moving from one state to another." The auburn-haired Bosmer explained as she took another sip of the stew. "He is a guide for all those who go through change in their lives, helping them find their way when it seems their entire world has turned upside down."
"Well, that is me alright," Teresa thought out loud as she tried a spoonful of the stew. The stew was hot and tangy, but tasted wonderful as it slid down her throat. "Raven likes the dark too I think."
"Ah yes," the Witch smiled. "You have noticed that. Before the creation of our world, Raven's home was the void, so he travels through the darkness without fear. He is a guide for all who must walk through dark places. As such he carries the souls of the dead from this world to the next, so they can be born anew.
"I guess he doesn't like necromancers much then," Teresa said, remembering the bird that had led her to Vilverin.
"Not at all," the Witch hissed, and for a moment Teresa thought she might spit into her bowl. "Those who corrupt the dead, and enslave their souls, are the enemy to both the living and the dead. They pervert the natural cycle of life and death that sustains our world." The older wood elf stared down at the blackened cloth that covered Teresa's frame, and the forester could see a light dawning in the Witch's eyes. "Is that how your tunic got ruined, a necromancer? I thought you looked strange."
"Yeah," Teresa looked down into her bowl and shuddered in spite of herself. "It was in Vilverin. There was a necromancer, real piece of work. I won't say what he did to the bandits I found there. I don't like to think about it. The fetcher got away too…"
"The bandits?" the other woman asked, one hand falling to take Teresa's arm. "Was one of them a Redguard? A man with a goatee, carrying a Dwemer mace?"
"Ummm, I think so," Teresa remembered the two Redguards he had seen outside of the ruin. As she recalled, the man did have a short beard, and a mace. Had it been Dwemer? It had been dark, but now that she thought about it, it did have that bronze-look to it that all of their artifacts possessed.
"Yes, he was." Teresa answered more confidently now, looking up into the Witch's eyes. Now it was the turn for the other woman's gaze to fall, and her hand fell away. "I'm sorry, did you know him?"
"His name was Destri," she nodded. "He was just here a week ago. He had gotten stonejoint from a rat that bit him. I cured him for that suit of armor there." Teresa followed the other woman's gesture to a pile of leather and hide in the far corner of the room, beyond her bed. "I didn't even need the armor. It's not like I ever wear the stuff. I just liked him."
"I'm sorry," Teresa said quietly, thinking of the Emperor. "I know what it's like to lose someone."
"Well, maybe I'll meet him again in the next lifetime," Morcant sighed. Rising from the table, she walked across the room to where the armor was piled on the floor. Pulling out the cuirass, she held it up and eyed Teresa. "I think it will probably fit you. It was made for Bosmer women after all. What do you think?"
The forester suppressed a faint smile as she put down her spoon and stood up. The last thing she wanted was to look happy when the other woman's friend was dead, even if he was a bandit. Walking across the room, she found that the light brown leather did seem about her size. "It should fit," she breathed. Looking between the ample space in the upper half of the garment, then back down at her own chest, she went on, "it might even be a little roomy. Will you trade me for it? I have gold."
"Gold is not something I really have a need for," the other woman frowned, then looked at the sack of loot Teresa had deposited near the door. "What else do you have in that bag of yours."
"I have some magic crystals you might like," the young wood elf offered as she walked back to the sack and knelt down beside it. Untying the cord that squeezed off its lip, she began to pull out the loot she had found in the Ayleid ruin. Pain lanced through her fingers, and she yanked her hand back with a yelp. A shard of broken glass fell away from her bleeding flesh, and Teresa cursed even as she focused on the symbol of her healing spell.
"I can help with tha-" the Witch offered, stepping to the young woman's side. But the forester waved her off with her good hand. Calling up the magicka within her, she loosed it into the symbol of her spell. A moment later a white light fell around her body, leaving her skin whole once more behind it.
"I see you know a few tricks after all young one," Morcant said with hint of respect.
"Just a little, I'm not a real magician or anything." Teresa replied with a frown, now looking carefully into the sack. She found that the alembic and retort she had taken from Vilverin were both broken, and bits of shattered glass from each were strewn about the inside of the canvas bag. Picking the pieces out carefully and setting them aside, she glanced back up at the Witch. "I guess these do not travel well."
"No they don't," the other woman replied, and Teresa could see that she was restraining a laugh. Then her eyes lit up as the forester withdrew the one crystal that was long and slender at both ends, with the metal lattice around its center. "You have a varla stone!"
"Is that what it's called?" Teresa asked, looking down at the odd crystal. "I know it has magicka in it, but I don't know how you can get it out. I can tell you can just pull it right up from those other ones."
"Yes, those are welkynd stones, anyone can use them to replenish their magicka," the Witch said offhandedly. Reaching out her hand, she lifted the other stone and held it up to the light. "But this is something altogether different. A magician can add the energy within a varla stone to their own when they are enchanting. It can double, or even triple the power of the things they can create."
"So is it destroyed after you use it?" Teresa asked, looking up at the older woman. "I heard that magic stones are like that."
"Oh no, those are magicka gems you are thinking of," the Witch replied. "Those are just regular crystals that you can fill with your own magicka. After they are enchanted first of course. They turn to dust when you pull the magicka back out again later, because they cannot take the strain. The same as with a scroll. These Ayleid stones are made from meteoric glass though, the stuff of the stars themselves. They naturally draw power directly from the sky just as we do ourselves, and never wear out. It just takes a few days for them to build up energy after each use."
"That sounds pretty valuable," Teresa said with an appraising eye. "A lot more than just a suit of armor."
"How about magic armor?" the Witch smiled down at the forester. "Give me the varla stone, and I will use it to enchant that suit for you."
Teresa allowed a faint smile to escape her lips. "Throw in another cinnamon roll and you have a deal."