|Flowers Known and Unknown
Author: Crisium PM
A Hero falls. Hero of Kvatch and Mankar Camoran.Rated: Fiction M - English - Words: 2,092 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-15-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5140581
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rated M for serious violence, sex, unhappy thoughts and inexplicable weirdness.
Yes, it's Mankar Camoran/ Hero of Kvatch. If you hated Red or thought it was bizarre, don't read this.
Elder Scrolls belongs to Bethesda, as does the Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes.
She doesn't belong at Cloud Ruler Temple, that much is obvious immediately.
It's too cold, for starters, even though this is supposed to be summer, and her thin Bosmeri skin always feels half-frozen, the tips of her ears nipped by frost no one else notices. The Blades armor everyone else wears with such pride is too heavy for her to lift much less carry, and so in a sea of uniformed sword-slung men she is the lone mer, in chainmail with a bow, shivering against the wind.
They pretend not to notice she isn't one of them, and for a while she tries to go along with their little rituals, the Things Blades Do- the Loredas card game (at which Caroline cheats), standing with a companion on the battlements and looking over the world, the never-ending practices. But she's a quiet and solitary creature and they are so loud. Outside there is the clanking of swords and shields; inside there are Martin's frustrated sighs and Jauffre's harrumphs of shouldn't you be doing something somewhere else?
And so Cloud Ruler Temple becomes just another stop on the endless line of errands, and never feels like home.
Baurus she meets again and likes, because they have already faced down death together and he is genuinely warm. But once she has the books they need he leaves for Martin's side, buckling under the weight of guilt, and leaves her to carry on alone.
Well. Not alone. She has the books.
Sprawled on a rented bed, she reads them, these Commentaries that say so much and so little. Nonsense, she thinks. They're nonsense. The demented ravings of a madman given to the wrong Daedra.
She falls asleep on the pages, one hand still tracing the words as she drifts off: Nu-mantia, Liberty.
The first thing she sees when she opens her eyes is I, the Mankar of stars, am with you.
She reads the books again, and concedes that he may be a poet.
Again, and that he may be a misguided genius.
And once again, just for herself, though she has them memorized in some places, tucked away in her mind for safekeeping. I come to take you to my Paradise.
She traces the letters with a fingertip, wondering what they would sound like in his voice. She can almost hear it. You are royalty, a new breed of destroyer, whose garden shall flood with flowers known and unknown, as it was in the mythic dawn.
And then: the shrine.
She leaves everything behind and stays ready to run, afraid they will know her face or that she will give herself away, and clothes herself in crimson before the eyes of Harrow. She follows him down to where the voice commands her attention, to where Camoran stands before his scarlet flock with outstretched arms, the timid shall be cast down; the mighty shall tremble.
He is wearing the Amulet.
She had tried to put it on, out of curiosity, but the clasp would not close or let itself be tied together, and Martin had assured her that only one of Divine blood could wear it.
But Mankar Camoran is wearing the Amulet. And he is looking at her and he knows, but he is merely smiling and bidding farewell to the assembly as he disappears into Paradise.
Either he is Divine, or she has been lied to.
When no one is watching, she steals the Mysterium Xarxes away and disappears into the night.
In the small hours of the morning she finds an abandoned camp, and reads. Tries to read; this time there is no languorous poetry to the pages, only riddles, lines of power that pull at her fingertips when she brushes them across the page. In the center there is a symbol and when she touches it she feels, just for a moment, the press of a fingertip touching back from the other side of the paper. Startled, she turns the page but there is nothing there. No rock underneath pushing up the pages, no ambitious insect crawling through the Xarxes, nothing.
She puts a finger there again, and after a moment she feels it, as though out of a dream: the soft press of lips.
She slams the book closed and wraps it in leather and cord, and gives it to Martin as though she can't wait to be rid of it.
It is not precisely the truth.
Why is it always crazy Altmer? one of the Blades huffs, glancing down at the page as Martin studies it.
Not Altmer, Martin corrects absently. Half-Altmer. His mother was a Bosmer.
And all eyes flick to her for a second, the only Bosmer in the room. As though she had anything to do with it.
It's just another reason to stay out of the way.
She throws herself into the work, into quest after quest but they seem to bring her unerring back to the temple, back to the table where Martin keeps the book, opened on the table.
One night when everyone else is asleep, she creeps quietly into the hall, just to see. She touches, stroking in a light circle. Immediately the answer comes, the spiral of a touch saying I am here.
When she looks up, Jauffre is watching.
She finds excuses to be away, then, to the little house she'd bought in Bruma, lying warm and waiting before the roaring fire with the Commentaries open in front of her, whispering questions to the pages as though he could hear her- what are you telling me? and what do you want?
Come slow, and bring four keys. Fear only for a second. I, the Mankar of stars, am with you, and I come to take you to my Paradise.
The words tug something sleeping and quiet in the back of her throat, but there's no return touch from the pages.
She returns to the temple to find them readying for war. The table, the book, are shoved away carelessly in the preparation. That night there is celebration, if restrained, a rallying of the troops but they are still so loud with their armored fists on the table and half-shouted tales of the past glories of the Blades and no one notices when she slips away.
She only means to go to bed, really, but the sight of the book stops her, pulls at her, and without knowing why she bends and kisses the page, pressing her lips to the symbol and smiling at the feel of a finger tracing the shape of her mouth. Paradise.
Soon enough, it comes.
Everything they need, they have. Come slow and bring four keys. Martin is nervous but ready, and she smiles encouragement as he begins his ritual, opening the portal for her.
Paradise is a vision. She makes herself invisible and walks unerring down the path, with her eyes turned to the quiet beauty around her and her mind turned to him, his voice in her mind a challenge and a beacon and a command. He speaks of joining, of old and new, of blurred lines and a new dawn.
She makes her way forward as though pulled by invisible tethers, steady through the trials of daedra and underground flame until she stands before him. And his children are there at her side, watchful with nervous eyes and she smiles at the thought that they would be nervous of her. But at their father's word, they leave, sidling away with uncertain glances, and in Carac Agaialor they are finally alone.
Mankar Camoran is not a madman. He does not burn with the passion of mania, the pull of fervor and rapacity. He is solitary, and quiet, and his eyes are utterly calm when he gestures her closer. It is command and request and caress and she goes unthinking, and so in what was supposed to be her greatest battle she never draws a weapon and he never makes a move to fight.
From five feet away: "Closer."
And then they can't get any closer because her knees are against his and it's a small gesture for him to reach out a finger and trail it along her own, to trace it along her lip.
He may not burn; she does.
One last glance at duty before she leans in and kisses him, and is lost.
He takes her quietly, still on the throne, parting her robe with deliberate hands and murmuring of beauty and dawn and right as he pulls her on top of him, and she doesn't understand it all but she understands joining, and blurring lines, and the feel of his skin under her fingertips and of him moving inside her. Hands on her hips urge her on as he whispers of the mythic dawn, and him the midwife and her the mother and she stops him with a kiss and he seems content not to speak, sliding a hand up her spine as they move. She muffles her cries against his skin; his fingers light against face as she comes down, and his eyes are reverential and calm.
But after months of the cold comfort of nothing but pages it is not quite enough and she kisses him, harder this time, demanding: more. He takes her again, not so quietly, not so patiently, the sounds they make echoing strangely off the walls.
She doesn't wonder where his children have gone until she hears his daughter return, and the announcement is given: It's done. We're ready.
And she doesn't have time to wonder what they mean because Camoran is smiling and leading her by the hand, out and away from Paradise into what looks like Oblivion. For a moment she falters but it must be an illusion because she recognizes the steps of Cloud Ruler Temple and so she keeps on.
She thinks it is empty at first because the sky is so red she doesn't see the signs of struggle, the blood spilled onto grass and stone.
And then Camoran's son pushes forth from the temple, dragging a man by the arm: Martin, bound and terrified. Martin glances at Camoran's chest where the Amulet rests- victory desperately near but unattainable- and looks sick. His eyes find her and he almost has time to hope at the prospect of salvation, at the thought that his Hero will save him, but her fingers are still intertwined with Camoran's and when he notices he closes his eyes in pain and horrified disbelief. When he looks at her again there is a strange mixture of pity and accusation in his gaze, and he is whispering prayers when they force him to his knees and hack off his head.
She had not wanted this. Her knees threaten to buckle and she is sick with reality, but she lets Camoran lead her up the battlements, where those Blades who were fond of each other would come to speak in private. See now, he says low in her ear, and sweeps a hand across the red landscape, look upon the world you've borne.
There is a figure marching forth across Tamriel, vast and four-armed and terrible, and she knows that all of it was truth, and all of it was lies.
Do you remember the words? he says, and she tries to think but there is a blade across her throat, subtle and quick and she remembers as she bleeds out, a sacrifice on an altar of words: We mortals leave the dreaming-sleeve of birth the same, unmantled save for the symbiosis with our mothers, thus to practice and thus to rapprochement, until finally we might through new eyes leave our hearths without need or fear that she remains behind. In this moment we destroy her forever and enter the demesne of Lord Dagon.
Mother, he had called her with his lips at her throat. We destroy our mother. His face is the last thing she sees before weakness sends her over the battlement, falling into eternal Oblivion and the dead bones of the broken world.