Minesweeper is the most boring game in the world. And yet somehow it still provided a respite from another shift at the charity shop; duller than dishwater. One bag of clothes donated – most of which too grotty to sell – and a single customer who bought a book. One book! In the past three hours of operation, this shop has earned a grand total of 30p! At this rate we won't last another year.
"Ha! This'll be perfect!"
Of course... There is that other potential customer.
He had come in about two hours ago. Older guy. Dressed in an odd suit that looked familiar somehow. Like two-face decided to jazz up his wardrobe a little. It was an old-fashioned suit, a bit too bulky for modern tastes and the halves coloured differently. One side orange, the other purple. To complete his odd ensemble he carried a cane with an odd design at the head, but I couldn't make it out from where I was sitting. Other than that, he had an impressively well maintained beard, turned grey the same as the rest of his hair though it looked like it was a tad premature, his face not showing the same age. He spoke with an odd, not-quite-scottish accent. The kind you get from living elsewhere for long enough. I should know. Living on the internet for most of my life basically gave me a similar hybrid accent, though English/American rather than Scottish/English.
No, I don't think that's sad. Shut up.
Anyway, while the suit was strange, his actions were stranger. Most people who come into the shop look around for five minutes, see we mostly just have crap no one wants, then leave. Some buy a couple articles of clothing. This guy... Well I already said he'd been here two hours. He spent that two hours examining every item individually, then put it back in not quite the right place. An ornament on the second shelf would be put on the third, one from the third on the first and so on. Sometimes he'd pick something up, look at it for a few seconds, then take it to the opposite side of the room and leave it there.
At first I tried to clean up after him. Then I realised he wasn't going to stop any time soon. It would be easier and more efficient to wait for him to leave so I could get it all done at once. If that meant my shift would end before then well, that was just bad timing for the second shift, wasn't it?
"I'd like to buy this fine set of carving knives, my good man!", he announced as he marched up to the counter. "It'll make a fantastic gift for Haskill to give to Thadon to give to me! Ahh, ever since I carved out his eyes he's always giving the best gifts!"
… A lot of people would be unnerved by that comment. Really, in any other circumstance I probably would be too. But I've been working in this shop for 8 months and that is by far not the strangest thing I've heard from a customer. Maybe if he starts shitting on the clothing racks but I doubt that'll have the same impact the third time.
You're contributing to society. You're contributing to society. You're contributing- "£2." I told him, looking at the price label.
He pulled a £5 note from under his... collar? And hands it to me. Just roll with it, I tell myself as I get his change.
"The money here is so much nicer than back home, you know.", he observed. "You put a pretty lady on it! Ours has an ugly old man. So dull! And yours is made of paper! So much more convenient, really. Then again, it's far easier to beat someone to death with a sack of coins..."
As he spoke that last sentence his voice took on a menacing edge. Okay, he's rapidly moving away from 'harmless crazy' to 'possibly an axe murderer'. Or... 'sack of coins' murderer'.
… I hate how my brain works sometimes.
Not important. I gave him his change and his smile turned from menacing back to... well, not peaceful. I don't want to use the word 'manic' but... "Thank you, good sir! If I see you again, maybe we can enjoy some friendly maiming together! It's a great workout for your triceps... until you lose them, that is! Ha, ha!"
And with that, he was out of the door.
Yup. I'm done. My shift officially finished five minutes ago, Kev can wait for the second shift. I've had enough dealing with crazy people for this week.
And no sooner had I thought that than- "You kno~~~~~w...", the potentially violent crazy person said, his head poking sideways around the door. "I had a thought a while back." he continued as he approached again. "I thought, 'Sheggy, old chum! Madness is so simple on the faces of it! To be mad, all you have to do is stop making sense!'" He stopped talking, opting instead to stare at me.
I stared back, afraid to move or look away.
"'Well, Sheg-Sheg', I thought back, 'that really is oversimplifying it, don't you think? There are so many types of sense to not make! Like tying together bits of string because one long piece of string is too straightforward! Or washing your clothes in sewage! Or ripping out a man's tongue because he isn't using it enough."
"I-I..." I tried, taking his threatening tone as a prompt but utterly failing to come up with anything to say.
"'Yes, but Sheggy', I retorted.", he said, ignoring my attempt at speech entirely. "'Those things might be plenty mad, but how do you make mad?' 'Well, Sheg-Sheg, I think that's obvious. All you really need is something unexpected! Something that truly boggles the mind!' What do you think, sir? Aren't we a wise men?"
What the hell do you say in this situation.
Answer: You don't. You run.
"Now, I look at you, my friend. And I see a man in need of a good boggling! It's good for the soul! Nnnnnot so much for the body but definitely for the soul. Sometimes. So as I am the masterful magnanimous man of madness made of malice and mania sod it alliteration is boring – say goodbye to Earth."
Only a strangled sound escaped my vocal cords before he shoved the head of his cane into my solar plexus.
"Now this is a nice spot, don't you think?", I heard the madman say as I tried to get my breath back. "So weird and wonderful, isn't it? I hear they travelled around in giant insect stomachs here! Delightful!"
I looked around, squinting slightly due to being suddenly and inexplicably outside. Thankfully it was overcast so it wasn't too big a problem. We were on a dock. Not just a dock, though. A dock with a prison ship moored to it. And I had my hands tied. And he was a madman in a split-coloured suit with a well-maintained beard and a pseudo-scottish accent.
Suddenly inexplicable became slightly more explicable. Slightly.
"... Sheogorath...", I managed to say, fairly sure after what I assume to be interdimensional time travel he probably isn't doing this to kill me. Not immediately, anyway.
"He speaks! Not sure I'm too fond of that. I liked you better when you were quiet and terrified. I used to be quiet, you know! People say it's polite. Virtuous. Bah! Rubbish! Politeness, manners, virtue, all shackles to deny the mind true freedom! Polite people would never piss in someone's face and laugh at them! And they're poorer for it!"
"We're in Morrowind..." I muttered, recognising the scene from the game. Though it was far less detailed there.
"Yes! Isn't it grand! You stand in the shoes of the Nerevarevarevarine! Or not. Never quite figured that out. Well, have fun!" And with that, Sheogorath disappeared, and that was the last I saw of him.
… For the next three seconds. "On second thought, probably a bad idea. There's already a me here and while I'd love to have another two mes to understand me and other me like no other, paradoxes are not fun to mess with. MOVING ON!"
Another gut shot with the cane.
I drop to the stone floor, clutching my stomach and coughing.
"Now this seems more your speed! Lots of adventures to be had here! So many memories! With the giant dragon man, a fox, that exquisite dinner party and eventually you get to become the Deadric Prince of Mad- Oh. Wait... Shit!", he swore as he slammed his cane into my back, dropping me back to-
-a road. Outside again but still overcast. And once again my hands were bound. I was fairly certain of where we were and if I was right, I could be even more certain this would be where he leaves me.
"Doverkin! Doverkin! Nar sin dos far in!", Sheogorath sang. I'm fairly certain those aren't the words but I doubt he cares. "Ahh, DRAGONS! Is there anything better to drive people mad with fear?! I find undying eldritch abominations have that effect most times, you know."
"Why are you doing this?" I coughed as I got back to my feet.
"Haha, I already told you! Chaos! Chaos breeds madness like nothing else! And what could add more chaos to the return of dragons than turning the prophecised hero into a nobody with no combat skills from another reality entirely! Besides, the original guy was a Nord. I mean really. A Nord? In Skyrim? Where's your creativity, Akatosh?!" Sheogorath shouted at the sky. "You better step up in future or that nice dragon statue in Cyrodil is gonna turn into a fifty-foot lettuce! Your worshippers'll be eating your progeny for weeks!"
I know if he goes away I'll be led to a cart which will take me to my own execution (ish), but... I kind of want him to go away. I should hope that's understandable. "I'll still be the Dragonborn, right? I mean if I'm not, the world is kind of screwed. No more madness if everyone is dead, right?" I asked rhetorically, trying to appeal to crazy logic.
"Hm. Probably. For all intents and purposes, you're him and he's you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to be going. Don't want to miss Nordy Nord the boring Nord going mad from the revelation, wrecking your shop and mutilating your coworkers! Ta ta!" And with no warning, the Daedric Prince of Madness vanished and that was the last I saw of him.
"Get moving, rebel scum!", an Imperial soldier barked at me with a forceful push. Obediently I walked towards the cart. Other Stormcloak (Rolaf?), Horse Thief following after and finally Ulfric himself taking his spot next to me.
I'm in Skyrim.
H... Holy shit.
It's a dream it's a dream it has to be a dream it's not a dream that soldier just shoved me and it hurt and it's so cold!
Somehow, it all seemed to hit me at once. I was in Skyrim. And there was no possible way I could get myself home. All the significant and insignificant aspects of my old life appeared in my mind.
I'd just made a home for myself. Gone.
How would my family react?
Would the podcast crew have any idea I had vanished? Would they go on without me?
And after my mind had raised all of those questions, I realised it. I would never know the answers. Because I was here. And there was no way back.
It's funny. You see these scenarios all the time in fanfiction. 'What if I was dropped in this universe?' You can see instantly the ones that don't put much thought into the idea. They get dropped into their new world and immediately start doing things. Changing things to their liking, making their own place in their new reality, claiming that reality as their own personal fiefdom in some cases. Then there are the other ones. The ones that stop and think 'How would I react?'. And they realise in the beginning only one thing will matter. Self-preservation.
Survival instinct will take the reins and grip them tightly.
If I had been thinking entirely clearly there are a few things I might have done. I might've given Rolaf a piece of my mind for his 'we're all in this together' speech when the rebels were the only reason the horse thief and I were headed to the chopping block. I would've told Ulfric off about how his rebellion is only helping the Dominion, weakening both Skyrim and the Empire before the inevitable second war. If I could convince him (however implausible that might be), it would save a lot of lives in the future. But survival instinct was in the driver's seat. And future concerns were worth nothing compared to surviving today. Instead, every single synapse and every single cell of my brain was rooting through all of my memories of the setting, picking apart everything I know to put together a workable plan.
Cover story. Breton. I have the features and the accent to pass as one. I know some medieval cultures had a problem with people like me but I don't know the Nord (or Imperial) attitude towards albinism so I'll play that by ear.
… Magic is real. Could it be... treatable?
Wait. Magic is real. And it's the purview of the intellectuals in this world. I might not be remarkably intelligent but that's by modern standards. I doubt they even understand the concept of Newtonian physics here. Magic is definitely an avenue I could explore.
… Assuming it works for me. But Sheogorath said I was the Dragonborn now. Surely that's a type of magic. It's a real possibility. Future concern, though. Back to not getting eaten by a dragon.
Right. The dragon. Need to stall my execution as long as I can to make sure Alduin shows up before I get the axe. Then... Tower. Dragon busts through the window, jumping thirty feet into a burning buildi-FUUUUUUCK THAT. But I don't know any alternative routes since the game would railroad you that way. Play it by ear, there. What else, what else...
… Could I get Ralof and Hadvar to work together? Safety in numbers and all that and I don't want to have to fight a dozen stormcloaks-
"Well, this is it. Our time has come." Ralof announced sombrely as the cart slowed to a stop.
Too late for that plan, then.
The soldiers manoeuvre us out of the cart and into an orderly line, Horse Thief professing his (partial) innocence the whole time. It feels like there are a few more rebels and soldiers here than in the game but it might be caused by actually being here rather than seeing it on a screen. Horse thief is next to me at the end of the line.
Wait, he runs, doesn't he? Should I...
And survival instinct rears its ugly head again. Him running holds up the executions and buys time for Alduin to get here. I... I need him to die.
"No! I'm not a rebel! You can't do this!"
"You're not gonna kill me!"
A single arrow is loosed into his back. He falls. Three more follow to make sure. His body jerks as the final three arrows sink into his torso. He goes unnaturally limp in a matter of seconds.
I just let a man die to buy me a handful of seconds.
A/N: I've been planning a Skyrim fic for months, it feels like. Originally I was going to do a playthrough one in the style of 's 'Wanderer's Diary' but Skyrim is far more strict about what you can and can't do In the game than Fallout was.
Not to mention the problem of working out what's going on in places when I'm not there. Think about it. In Fallout, settlements are settlements and they never really get attacked. But in Skyrim constant attacks on settlements is a major game mechanic and plot point and when the attackers can only be killed by the player character...
So that fell through. Then I started reading some really fantastic self-inserts on Spacebattles (shout out to With This Ring and Welcome the Hellmouth for being super awesome) and I thought I could do something with a 'hardcore self-insert' story, as I name it in my head.
So the details. In this story, I am me. I have my knowledge, experiences and appearance. With my appearance comes my disability (albinism). Therefore I have terrible eyesight and sunlight is painful for my eyes. But, because I do have to be the hero of this story (or die when the world ends) I need at the very least the Dragonborn abilities. Ergo, I am Dragonborn.
So... This'll be a thing.
Obligatory plug. Fandom Flux youtube channel. Podcasts, LPs, fun stuff.
Thanks for reading!