haute ecole rider:
I was originally going to write this entire chapter from the pov of Teresa, but once I started writing the middle scenes, I realized they would work better from the pov of Tadrose. I have been planning to write something from her pov for some time now. It was just a question of what. So this was perfect. As you said, it was about time.
One of the reasons I do not write first person is that you cannot change pov characters. You are stuck with the one, and that is it. I saw a piece over at the Beth forums where someone tried telling a first person story from multiple povs, but it was very confusing, even with the pov character's name at the start of every scene.
Of course the advantage of writing first person is that you can use the word "I", which gives you a much greater amount of intimacy with your character. I have spent a lot of time wrestling with trying to bring a similar level of intimacy to my characters with the limitation of third person pov.Olen
: There will be more about Tadrose's daughter eventually, and why she left Morrowind. It will probably all have to come from her own thoughts, like in the last segment, because I doubt she would even tell any of it to Teresa, let alone anyone else. That was one of my prime reasons for switching to Tadrose's pov here. The other of course being that I wanted to show Teresa from an outsider's pov while she was unconscious and makes her initial recovery (which is next). Acadian
: You said a long time ago that I said that if you are going to change pov characters, make it worthwhile. I cannot remember if I really did say it, but I am happy to take the credit anyway, because I do agree! This was one of those times it was definitely worth it, given the things can only come out from Tadrose's thoughts.
Tadrose's age is a good point you bring up. It is something I wrestled with initially, because I did not want her to be too old, yet still old enough to have a half-grown child. She was born on the 9th of Hearth Fire (September) 3E404, that makes her just turned 29. Teresa herself will turn 19 in Evening Star (December).
Oh, and we will learn the identity of Teresa' saviour this coming episode.Grits
: Like I said to Acadian, the age differences is something I spent a lot of time working on. I was originally going to make Tadrose even younger, around 26, but after further reflection a decade does not seem like much for elves. After all, a 20 year old elf and an 80 year old probably look exactly the same. I think to them the levels of maturity individuals possess would be the more important thing. Thanks to Teresa's life on the street, maturity has always been something she had had no shortage of, in spite of her inexperience with the world. Destri Melarg
: Don't put those bricks down just yet! The following episode will show that someone else might need them. I agree that it must be brutal for Tadrose to stand by while someone else raises her daughter. Her only consolation is that her child is truly safer, and better off that way. Plus she has had ten years to come to terms with it. In the game other NPCs remark that Tadrose is a serious workaholic, working relentlessly for her guild. I sat down to try to think of what would make her turn to work to escape from life, and this just sprang up.
You are not far off the mark in thinking of the Tong. Although in Tadrose's case it was being handled in the House itself. This was actually partially inspired by a movie I saw set in Victorian England, where a poor wetnurse switched her daughter with that of a wealthy socialite. Her motivation being so that her daughter would not grow up in the slums, with no future. D.Foxy:
Thank you Fox. We will see next episode if Teresa awakes with a kiss or not. Previously on Teresa of the Faint Smile:
Our last episode saw a switch to the point of view of Tadrose Helas, who watched the girl who is secretly her daughter play with the other children while having lunch. Her meal was interrupted by a city guardsman rushing a critically wounded Teresa to the Benevolence of Mara, and he led the way for him into the chapel, where Olava the Fair and Marz took charge of healing out wounded forester. Next we remain in Tadrose's pov as Teresa awakes. This episode it a little longer than I would like, but there was no good place to break it into equal pieces. Chapter 37.4 – Redemption
The vice-commander's eyes sprang open at the sound of Teresa's voice. Failing to stifle the yawn that escaped from her lips, the Dunmer could not keep from stretching her limbs as well. How long had she been asleep? Too long, if the soreness in her neck had anything to say about it. Straightening up in her chair, Tadrose turned to look at the wood elf laying in the bed beside her.
Teresa's emerald green eyes were open now, and she turned her head one way and another as she took in the ward room. A moment later the forester rose to a sitting position, causing the sheet that had covered her to fall into her lap. Her skin was bare in the morning air, exposing not only her small breasts, but firm muscle as well. There did not seem to be an ounce of fat upon the wood elf's frame. Her cheeks were gaunt, and the lines of her ribs were plainly visible. Her left shoulder was completely encircled by angry red scars, and a large, round scar now graced her right breast as well.
But at least she was not only awake, Tadrose thought, but moving. That was so much better than how she had lain silent and still for the last day, skin as cold and white as snow.
"Teresa!" Tadrose smiled. "I am sorry, I must have nodded off. How are you feeling?"
"Tired, and hungry," the wood elf replied. Her words were a dull monotone, and her eyes were as barren of feeling as a desert. She looked down at her naked frame, eyes lingering over the new scars. Fingers tracing the scars that covered her shoulder, she cautiously moved her arm.
Tadrose was relieved to see that her left arm appeared as healthy as ever, as the forester turned it this way and that. She was just as thankful to see not a trace of pain on the other elf's features. In fact, she saw no emotion in Teresa at all. Not even embarrassment from her nakedness.
"Marius?" Teresa asked, and now Tadrose wondered if she detected a rasp in the Bosmer's voice.
"He was beyond aid." The armorer shook her head slowly and stared at the floorboards. Then she lifted her eyes back to Teresa's and forced a smile to her lips. "You were very lucky yourself. If Gaius Prentus had not carried you here as quickly as he did, you would not have made it either."
"Maybe I shouldn't have…" Teresa mumbled. She stared down at her lap and sighed, and Tadrose felt her heart ache.
"Don't say things like that." Tadrose rose to her feet, and could not help but to momentarily reach out to touch the wood elf's fiery red hair. After realizing what she had done, she let her hands fall, and instead gathered the sheet and pulled it up over Teresa's chest.
She knew how close Teresa and Ancondil were. The last thing she wanted was to do was get in the way. They made an excellent couple after all, even if they kept it very discreet. Tadrose could understand the latter. Given the juvenile nature of some of the other guild members, their relationship would doubtlessly become the fodder for a great deal of jokes and teasing.
"How is our fighter today?" The harsh, rasping words caused both women to look up. Standing before them was an Argonian wearing the white robes of a priestess of Mara. Most of her scales were a soft shade of brown, that brightened to orange as they rose along her face, and finally created lines of gold that swept back over the top of her skull. Her only adornments were a handful of golden hoops that fell from her long, pointed ears. As with all Argonians, her face was an expressionless mask. "I am Marz. I am one of the priestesses who healed you."
"I have to use the pot," Teresa said bluntly, "and soon."
The priestesses ears lifted ever so slightly, but otherwise she showed no reaction to the wood elf's plain-spoken response. "That is normal. You have been unconscious since you were brought in yesterday. I will have one of our priestesses bring a pan for you to use shortly. If you can wait until then, I would like to look at you."
Before Teresa could answer, the Argonian stepped to the other side of the bed, and slid the sheet down from the wood elf's shoulder. "Can you move your arm?" she asked. "Does it cause you any pain?"
"No," Teresa said plainly as she lifted her left arm and twisted it one way and another. "It feels fine."
"Excellent," Marz said. "You were very lucky. If you had not been wearing your armor, your arm and shoulder would have been torn off. As it was, you suffered massive damage to your bones, muscles, and ligaments. Olava and I were not sure if we would be able to restore the full range of motion to your arm, if any at all."
Teresa said nothing. She simply stared at the palm of her left hand. Tadrose wondered what she might be thinking? Was it about how near she had come to being maimed? Or was it about Marius Helvius?
Marz continued with her examination, and stepped behind Teresa. "Breathe in deeply for me, then out again," she said, laying one ear on the elf's back.
Teresa did so, and Marz stepped back a moment later, nodding to herself.
"How long will she need to stay here," Tadrose asked.
"Well, she appears to have recovered very quickly." Marz said, looking first to Tadrose, then Teresa. "The direct harm has all been healed magically. However, you lost a great deal of blood, much of it into your lung. It appears we have drained the latter successfully though. Still, it will take your body some time to replace it. The same with your body's other nutrients."
"Other nutrients?" Teresa asked.
"Like natural healing, magical healing requires energy," the priestess explained. "Most of this is provided by the spell, but some must come from the injured person. You will note that you have lost nearly all of your body fat. Your tissues needed the energy stored within to regenerate. Now you will have to rebuild that. It is very important for you to do so. Your body is in a very precarious state right now."
"Drink a great deal of water and juice in the coming days, that will help replace the volume of blood you lost. Still, it will take weeks before your blood returns to its normal potency. During that time I also want to you eat more. Meat, bread, raisins, spinach, beans, and eggs will all help. Most of all rest. No exercising, and no fighting! If you become dizzy, just lie down for a while. Your body has been through a great deal, and will need time to recover."
"We will make sure she takes it slowly," Tadrose insisted, "and I am sure Gaius can find a way to put some more meat on her."
"I know you will," Marz said, looking from one elf to the other. "In that case, I see no reason for you to remain."
"Thank you Marz," Teresa said. "For all that you have done. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing at all," the Argonian replied. "As I am sure you recall, your guild does a great deal for our temple, so our assistance is free of charge. Although perhaps you might start coming to services on Sundas? Your vice-commander might enjoy not being the only member of your guild to do so."
Tadrose saw Teresa nod, and wondered what the wood elf was thinking. She had never known the other elf to show any interest in coming to the temple. Some even said that she was a Witch. The Dunmer never really saw what the difference was between the two, although the Imperials certainly did. Yet in many ways, she knew that Teresa was an Imperial at heart, thanks to her upbringing.
Tadrose made herself useful, and produced an extra set of clothing that she had brought for Teresa from the guild hall the night before. In the meantime the wood elf availed herself of a chamber pot, and then dressed with Tadrose's help. As the Dunmer's eyes lingered over the archer's too-lean frame, she had to fight the urge to do more than help her with her clothing.
Goddess, how strange it was to feel so for another after so many years! It had not been since Morrowind, when she had been Teresa's age. But she had been younger then, and foolish enough to let her feelings rule her body. Balen Dres had taught her the folly of that. Had that been only a decade ago? Sometimes it felt like a lifetime had passed since she had lived in Mournhold.
But Teresa was more an Imperial than an elf in any case, Tadrose told herself silently. She would not be interested in other women. Especially not considering her relationship with Ancondil. It was difficult to miss the amount of time she spent alone with the Orismer in his room, or that she had cooked meals for him when he returned to the guild hall late due to contracts. Then there were all the plays they had seen at The Globe
together. Teresa had invited her as well, but it had never felt right to get in the way of the wood elf and orc. They obviously had a good relationship, and she did not want to cheat them out of any of their moments together.
So it was with a heart steeled against Teresa's charms that Tadrose led the other woman through the temple and into the streets of Bravil. She tried to make small talk with the forester, telling her how many people had come to visit her while she had been unconscious. Besides Ancondil and the other fighters, it seemed half the Mages Guild had visited as well, most notably Kud-Ei, Henantier, and Ardaline. Then there had been Ungarion from A Warlock's Luck
, Gaius Prentus of the city guard, and an old man from Silverbridge named Decimus. Even the Lady Scaurus had just happened to appear in the temple and find her way to Teresa's bedside. Purely by coincidence of course.
Yet Teresa said nothing as Tadrose spoke. She simply stared directly ahead, eyes as empty as those of a doll. Not even Aia - who was waiting for the pair on the steps of the temple - could cheer her up. The three of them walked to the guild hall, and at Tadrose's suggestion they stopped at a Khajiit street vendor to eat hard tortilla shells piled high with refried beans and green vegetables.
Naturally Aia would not accompany them into the hall, in spite of Tadrose's invitation. She knew how much Teresa liked the beggar, and had hoped the aging Imperial would join them. Yet Aia clearly had a strange quirk about entering buildings, as Tadrose had never even seen her in one.
Teresa's return to the hall brought more fussing, with Ancondil's emerald frame the first of several to wrap themselves around the wood elf in a warm embrace. As always, Tadrose did her best to ignore the pang that cut through her heart whenever she saw the two of them together. She had no right to feel jealous after all, they had every right to be happy together.
In spite of the attention, or perhaps because of it, Teresa did not remain in the sitting room with the others for long. After only a few moments she walked out with nary a word, and ascended the steps to the second floor.
Tadrose traded a long look with Gaius. Clearly, he had seen the same thing in Teresa that she had. After Bruma, they had both possessed that same empty, unfocused look in their eyes that the forester now had. Should she leave Teresa be? Tadrose wondered, or should she follow?
Tadrose found herself biting her lip. That only reminded her of Teresa, and without further thought, she also stepped from the room and made her way up the stairs. The second floor of the guild hall was lined with the doors of the fighter's individual sleeping chambers. While in the past few months a sense of raucous life had returned to the hallway, at the moment it felt just as lonely and dead as the day she had returned from Bruma.
Tadrose stopped at Teresa's door. A lifetime ago this had been Seridwe's room. As she knocked gently upon the door frame, the vice-commander could picture the high elf in her mind. Tall and slender, Seridwe had possessed a striking heart-shaped face and always the most impeccably styled blond hair. Tadrose half-expected the Altmer to answer as the unlatched door slowly glided open under her fingers. The armorer found Teresa sitting motionless on her bed, staring out the window, and imagined that she was not the only one seeing ghosts.
Like all of their quarters, Teresa's bedroom bore a simple rattan bed, along with an armoire, dresser, and a dressing table with a mirror. An arming rack against one wall held her leather armor, with the exception of her cuirass. Unlike most of the other rooms however, Teresa's was filled with potted plants. Short-stemmed aloe vera, purple cylamen, tall green snake plant, ivory sacred lotus, and soft blue flax all combined to form a miniature forest. A low case of cherrywood held numerous books, ranging in from subjects such as Arimer history and alchemy, to Juno Austenius' works and all five volumes of the unauthorized biography of Barenziah. Upon one wall hung an oil painting showing a breath-taking view of the Larsius river with the mountains in the background. Upon another was a portrait of Teresa and several of the other guild archers who had competed in the Tournament of Archers: Kurz, Lum, and Parwen.
"Reman for your thoughts," Tadrose said quietly, shutting the door behind her.
Teresa said nothing. The wood elf did not even look at her.
Tadrose sighed. It was worse than she had thought. Before she knew it, the armorer found herself sitting on the bed next to the archer. Laying one soft hand upon the younger woman's leg, the Dunmer studied her face intently.
"Talk to me Teresa," she finally said.
But the wood elf only shook her head, and continued to look away. Tadrose sighed. You could lead a guar to water, but you could not make it drink. She would just have to wait until the archer was ready to reach out to another person, and try to be there.
The vice-commander rose and stepped to the door. She had opened it and was stepping through when Teresa's voice stopped her.
"Did you ever make a mistake, that you just cannot make right?"
Tadrose stopped and shut the door in front of her. Turning around, she found that Teresa was now looking back at her.
"Yes," Tadrose said. She thought of Sere, who would never know who her true mother was, let alone her real name. "Yes I have. Did you make a mistake?"
"Marius is dead because of me." Teresa stared down at her hands.
"No," Tadrose was across the room in an instant. Taking the wood elf's pale fingers in her own, she caressed them gently. "That is not true Teresa. It is not your fault."
"Isn't it?" the wood elf's green eyes looked up at Tadrose. Where they were usually bright emerald sparks, now they were as dark and shadowed as the slopes of Red Mountain. "I led the trolls right to him. If I hadn't done that, if I hadn't ran away, he'd still be alive."
"Teresa, you did the right thing by withdrawing to the main gate." Tadrose sat down on the bed beside the forester once more. "In fact, that was a very smart decision on your part."
"Not for Marius," Teresa murmured.
"It is not your fault he was killed," Tadrose sighed. "He never should have been standing guard there alone. At any other city there are two fighters outside the main gate, two more just inside, and more
within the gatehouse. This Count is too cheap to hire the men the city needs to protect it. That is why Marius is dead. Mara's blood, there wouldn't even be trolls right next to the city walls if they were doing their job! At any other city, the guard would be patrolling the area for at least a day's ride in all directions. This never should have happened, not anywhere. "
"I should have just stood my ground," Teresa said, as if she had not heard a word. "But I ran, like a coward. He was a good man Tadrose, and now he's dead because I was too afraid to fight."
"You are not a coward Teresa." Tadrose tapped one finger against the wood elf's forehead. "You are one of the bravest people I have ever met. Not many people could have done the things you have. Come up from the streets, compete in the tournament, and stand up for what is right like you do. How many people do you know that heal bears, or fight packs of smugglers? How many call out the city guard for being corrupt? How many willingly go into those Arimer sites, or wander the forest alone?"
"You are just saying that to try to make me feel better."
"I am saying it because it is true," Tadrose insisted. "What if you had not retreated to the city gate? Those four trolls would have killed you. What then? Do you think they would have just vanished into thin air? No, they would have gone west to Silverbridge. How many farmers do you think they would have killed? Ten, or fifty, or all of them? They cannot fight monsters like that. Or the trolls would have gone east, just like you did. They would have killed Marius just the same, and everyone in the stable to boot. I know you do not want to see it right now, but the fact is that what you did saved lives."
"No, not his," Tadrose sighed. "Teresa, people die. That is just reality. We do as much as we can to prevent it, but we are not gods. We do not hold the fates of every living being in our hands. By Oblivion's fires, not even
the gods can do that."
"You lived Teresa," Tadrose went on. "He did not. You are going to have to learn to forgive yourself for that."
"How?" Teresa nearly shouted, her eyes now watery with restrained tears. "Every time I close my eyes, I see his dead face staring back at me! I see the Emperor's. I see all those people from Jensine's shop. Everyone I've failed."
Tadrose slipped an arm around the wood elf and held her tight. "There are no easy answers Teresa. You just have to go on with your life, and remember that there are still things worth living for, still people who care for you. Someday you will be able to look back at the ones you have lost without feeling like you are now. Time is like a river. If you will let it, it will wash away the pain, and leave only the good memories."