Chronicles of the Nerevarine
By Omega Gilgamesh
Disclaimer: I don't own Morrowind, nor any of the other Elder Scrolls games. The main character of my story, Raedyn, is entirely of my creation, save for his appearance and the whole destiny as the Nerevarine thing. Any legal infringement is entirely unintentional, and if I become aware of such infringements, I will do what I can to take them out of my story.
Note: For a better visual idea of what Raedyn looks like, go to the character creation section at the beginning of the game. Including the first options, he has the forth male Dunmer face, the one with the thin beard, and the seventh hairstyle, the unkempt shaggy black.
Chapter One: Broken Promises
Landscapes flashed and dissipated, presenting themselves for but a moment, as though in a constantly shifting battle tide to be shown in the spotlight. Lush inviting forests and murky luring swamps collided with ashen barrens, through night and day, through clear skies, clouds, and rainfall. All passed by in a hypnotic vision, and through it all, he knew he was not alone.
"They have taken you from the Imperial City's prison." A distant and wise female voice said to him. "First by carriage, and now by boat: to the east, to Morrowind."
He felt her presence, faint, but nevertheless tangible were both the woman and her immense power. He felt like he was falling, descending somewhere far away as he spoke back to her. "They never told me why." He said. He said it not for emphasis, nor as a complaint or as a prelude to a point; it was simply a statement.
"Fear not," the wise woman's voice continued, "for I am watching." As soon as he heard her words, darkness enveloped him, and the female voice died out, only to be replaced by a more familiar one.
"Wake up." It gently pleaded.
Opening his eyes, he found the shirtless Jiub, his bunkmate on the ship, standing next to the hammock he slept on. Bald and ashen skin colored, the Dark Elf's scarred right eye showed a snippet of the portrait that chronicled his incarceration.
Rolling onto his back, he lifted his hand to eyes, and saw the slightly clawed fingertips and sleight gray skin, so like his companion, greet him, as well as the magicka draining slave bracer. What a dream. He thought as his shaky hand rubbed his eyes.
"Good thing you woke up, not even last night's storm could wake you." Jiub commented as his bunkmate swung his legs out of the hammock, then asked, "Why are you shaking?"
I'm not sure myself. He silently replied. "Weird dream." He answered aloud, in his deep, gravely Dark Elf voice. "What's going on."
"I heard the guard say we've reached Morrowind, I'm sure they'll let us go." The hardened Imperial prisoner sounded somewhat anxious at the prospect.
"Don't get your hopes up, Jiub." He answered. "These are Imperials. They love their voices, not their words. You can never trust the words of those self-righteous sanctimonious-"
"Quiet!" Jiub quickly said. "Here comes the guard." Turning his head toward the bow, he saw a bulky Imperial walking down the ramp.
Stepping less then a couple feet from the two, as if wanting to show them he arrogantly wasn't afraid of these prisoners, he said, "This is where you get off." He turned to address the Elf with hair. "You first. Follow me."
The Imperial turned and left. The Dark Elf got off the hammock fully, and as he started to follow, Jiub said, "Careful. Just do what they say, and don't give them trouble."
The advice was too late. A couple decades too late.
Being as quiet as he could, the Dunmer followed the man, and 'accidentally' got too close, stepping on the heel of the man's fur-capped boots. The human whipped around quickly, yet slow enough the agile Mer jumped back far enough without a sound to look like he was innocent of any wrongdoing. He smiled at the guard, mockingly.
"Watch yourself, Dark Elf, you're on your-"
"Dunmer." The Mer corrected, interrupting.
The Imperial shook his head in annoyance, and continued forward, making sure to keep his distance from the 'Dunmer'. The Mer couldn't help but notice the man kept his hand close to the small mace strapped to his thigh. He smiled. To him, even a victory as small as angering a guard was a worthy victory with an Imperial.
After traveling up the ramp to the second level, they traversing the length of the ship to the stern where steep stairs led to the hatch. Stepping next to the ladder, the Imperial turned, and with an annoyed look directed toward the Mer, said, "Get yourself up on deck and let's keep this as civil as possible."
The Mer scoffed. "I've had enough of 'Imperial civility' for one lifetime." He said as he stepped onto the ladder and pushed the hatch open, admitting late morning sunlight into his red eyes. Standing up on the gently swaying deck, the south caught his eye. The endless Inner Sea stretch far out, bringing back memories of long forgotten sunsets. He had been in prison so long, he had forgotten how it felt looking at the infinite horizon. Strangely, unexpectedly, it made him nervous.
"Move along, Dunmer." Said a nearby Redguard, dressed in Imperial armor.
Taking his red eyes away from the horizon, he turned and walked down the plank to the small, rotted harbor, where another Imperial led him to the Census Office. Inside, there were tapestries decorated with the Dragon inside a red triangle: the crest of the Empire. At the desk was an elderly Imperial in a green dress robe, who greeted him. He seemed strangely friendly, at least for an Imperial. "Ah, yes. We've been expecting you. We'll have to finalize a few papers before you're officially released."
Released, eh? The Mer thought with grim incredulity, before speaking aloud, "What's the catch?"
"Hmm?" The Imperial seemed puzzled for a moment. "Oh, I'm not privy to any conditions for your release, you would have to consult Captain Sellus Gravius for that. I'm merely the Administrator." There's a catch, I'm sure of it. These Imperials are always duplicitous. He thought a moment before the elder human continued, "Back to the questions. First off, are you literate?"
Of course that's what the 'humbly civilized' Imps ask first, whether you can read whatever crap they write. "Yes, I can read both Imperial and Mer text." It was one of the few things he felt he gained from living under the Empire.
"Ah, good, that makes the next question easier." The old man stated. "Your full name please, and just for accuracy sakes, please spell it out as well." He pulled out a scroll with an ink quill.
"Uriel Septim the Seventh, and I demand a reason for my imprisonment." He answered in a fake Imperial accent.
Before the old man could reply, the nearby guard interjected, "The sooner you finish these papers, the sooner you'll get that off." He motioned toward the enchanted steel bracer on the Mer's right arm.
He sighed, then answered, "Raedyn Otheril." He then spelled it out.
"Ah good." The old man continued. "Now, your date of birth, your current age, and the date when you started your incarceration, please."
"Seventh of Rain's Hand, I'm twenty six now, and I was thrown in my cell on the twentieth of Second Seed seven years ago." Raedyn answered, reluctant and annoyed.
"Ah, that would mean you were born under the Atronach, correct?" When he saw the prisoner wasn't responding, he thought it wise to just continue. "Okay. Next, please state the nature of your crime."
"Murder." Raedyn answered, plainly and impassively, which the elder Imperial didn't seem to react to.
"Next, your parents' names, please." He continued on.
"Never knew my father, and my mother died when I was a kid, so I don't remember their names, only mine. And Otheril isn't a unique name." The Dunmer answered. He answered several questions after that, such as previous occupations, which were few, and official residencies, which were none.
Finally, the man wrote his signature at the bottom of the scroll, and blew on the ink to dry it. Afterward, he took the scroll and rolled it up, then taking the nearby candle on the desk into hand, dripped wax onto it, then pressed his signet ring into it. After giving it a minute to cool, he handed the scroll to Raedyn. "Show this to the captain when you exit to get your release fee. Good day to you Dunmer." He pulled out another scroll and started to work, giving no further attention to the former prisoner.
The guard in the room walked over and took Raedyn's arm and directed him out of the office and to the next building. In there, he found yet another Imperial, this one outfitted in flashy Templar armor. This must have been the captain.
Wordlessly, Raedyn handed the scroll to him. The man opened it, and looked it over. "Ah, Raedyn Otheril. I've been waiting for you." He closed the scroll and placed it on the desk, then grabbed a box wrapped in paper and rope. "I don't know what you did in prison, but the order for your release comes from the hand and word of Emperor Septim himself." He then handed the package to the surprised Raedyn.
The Emperor? He rarely trusted Imperials, and often went so far as to claim that deceit was the sole reason for wordplay being so highly revered in their culture; but to claim that statement as an outright lie wouldn't be giving them their due credit. He'd never encountered an Imperial who was so blatant, they had always been subtle with their deceptions.
"Why should I believe that? Is this a jest?" Raedyn asked, then held up the package. "And what's this?"
As he spoke, the captain accentuated every other word for emphasis. "You were released at the command of his majesty, Uriel Septim the Seventh, and therefore, you owe him for your freedom!" He continued on, now adopting a tone of authority. "You are to take that package to Caius Cosades in Balmora, and there you will receive your orders. Here's a pamphlet with directions."
Raedyn scoffed, pocketing the paper. "Just get this damn thing off me." He held out his right arm, the steel bracer emitting a gentle red glow.
"Before I do, know this. Vvardenfell may not be small, but it's not big, either. If we do not receive confirmation that this package as been delivered in three days, every Imperial and local authority group will be searching for you, and you will get thrown back into your beloved cell. This time without the chance to leave."
"Whatever, just get it off." Raedyn stated.
After a moment, the captain pulled a small, fine key out of his pocket, and pressed it into the small lock on the side the bracer. The thing fell off, and Raedyn felt the relief as his magicka reserves stopped being drained. He didn't use it for anything, but having it drained was still damn uncomfortable.
"Here's your release fee." The captain said, handing the Dunmer a handful of drakes.
"If this is a gift from the Emperor," Raedyn said as he counted the golden coins, "tell him not to be so cheap."
"We give those out to all released prisoner, Otheril." Gravius said, obviously wishing the annoying Dunmer heathen would leave. "We don't release convicts into the wild with nothing but the clothes on their backs. That money is meant to help you live until you find a job. In your case, it's meant to find Cosades and deliver the package."
Actual sympathy from the Imperial Legion? Now there's something I've never seen. He pocketed the drakes, and walked out of the office, and into the freedom he so coveted for the last seven years, hindered as it was.
Half an hour into his 'freedom', Raedyn watched the trees slowly pass around him as he sat in the back of the shell in the strange Silt Strider creature. So different from Cyrodiil. He thought. The open spaces of the plains started to bother him, and he sulked to the back of the giant bug. He felt safer, more secure as he pressed against the hollowed out shell's interior, with the walls so close in.
The creature was slower than a horse, but the ride was far smoother. The creature moved along, constantly moving it's legs and shifting it's weight from one appendage to another, so much like a spider.
The creature was only the first of the strange things this land apparently offered. The female Dunmer driver of the giant tick didn't take kindly to him, somehow instantly recognizing him as a foreigner, or 'outlander', but seemed bored, so she talked to him. Most of what she talked about centered around what he was not to do in Vvardenfell. From her lectures, he was able to glean some interesting facts about Morrowind, such as the 'Telvanni', whatever they were, lived in giant mushroom towers, and some great evil, Dagoth Ur, slept under Red Mountain, the center of the island.
He dismissed that belief as silly superstition. There were plenty of crazy beliefs in Cyrodiil, and to him, the worship of the Nine counted as one of them. Of course the arrogant, sanctimonious Imperials would claim that their Emperor was descended from one of the gods, even though no one had ever seen the Nine before. The Daedra were very real, no one disputed that, even Raedyn had seen them before, yet the Imperials place their faith in things they've never seen. If they could believe such a thing, no wonder they didn't view their dictation of the nations for what it really was: conquest.
"Things are never still in Morrowind." The driver ranted on. "If it's not some House politics, it's an Ashlander raid. If it's not some N'wah trying to start a riot, it's a disease outbreak. Even the blight is becoming more frequent. There's always some heretic within the Tribunal Temple who's causing trouble, Almsivi burn them all. Occasionally, some s'wit comes along and proclaims he's part of some heathen prophecy. You'll likely come across a cult that worships the bad Daedra. Unless you want the Ordinators after you as well, stay away from them."
Suddenly, they heard a scream. They looked up and saw a figure fall from the sky and make a small crater less then twenty meters from them. "Do things like that happen often?" Raedyn asked.
"First time I've seen it." She answered. "And I'm not surprised." She then stopped the Silt Strider by a rock formation high enough for them to get out and inspect the body, being careful not to get stuck in the muck swamps.
The being was a Bosmer male, clad in an eloquent green robe. On him was a diary, with the name Terheil inscribed on it, and three scrolls sticking out of a large satchel. Reaching over, Raedyn grabbed one of them, and unrolled it. It was inscribed with Mer text with the words 'Icarian Flight' on the top, but the words below it were barely pronounceable, obviously a Daedric tongue. Only an enchanter could decipher the scroll's purpose.
Raedyn then took the satchel, with the scrolls in it, opting to keep it for himself. After all, the dead Wood Elf wasn't going to need it.
A few hours later, Raedyn reached Balmora, and was glad to see nearly every face belonged to a Dark Elf. Occasionally there was an Argonian or a Nord, but most were Dunmer. As he made his way through the city toward the river that ran through it, he couldn't help but notice the stares he received. Now and then, he heard someone mutter "another outlander". He wondered, not for the first time, how they knew.
A slight rain had started to come down, and hearing the thunder off in the distance, Raedyn hurried up his search. After checking the pamphlet numerous times to recheck the directions, he arrived at the house he deducted was the home of this Imperial he was supposed to see. Not even bothering to knock, he lifted the latch and walked in. The steadily increasing rain was part of the reason for his hasty entry, but another was his discomfort being out in the open. He couldn't quite place it, but he felt exposed, vulnerable when he was outside, and always looked at any tight spaces he could see as a welcome spot to crawl into.
He stepped into the small house, and quickly saw a human male, with the sideways oval face of an Imperial, with no shirt on and white hair. The man looked to be in his late fifties, and had the physique of a long time farmer. The house also had the distinct, if faint, smell of skooma.
The Imperial regarded him with mild surprise at the sudden entry. "Can I…help you?" He questioned.
"If you're Caius Cosades," the Dunmer threw the package at the man, who deftly caught it, "then take this. If you're not, then take it to him." He turned to leave, but the Imperial grabbed his arm with a gentle grip.
"Hold on, I don't think whoever sent you to give me this wanted you to leave so suddenly." He said with a subtle tone that showed he knew what was going on. He walked past the Dunmer, and closed the door on the increasing rain. "I was told to expect you. I think we have some talking to do."
"You're dumber than the usual Imperial." Raedyn remarked.
Unperturbed, the old human asked, "And why do you say that?"
"Because you closed the door, now no one will see us." He then launched himself at the man, seven years of anger towards Imperials finding a means for release.
Half a second later, Raedyn slammed against the wall with numbing force, hard enough to knock a couple books over on the shelf. He hit the ground, coughing and hacking after breath returned to his lungs, then fell over onto his side, as dizziness kept him from staying up. As his head started to clear up, through his coughs he asked, "Who are you?" Knowing now this old man was not what he seemed.
"For now, I'm just an old man with a skooma problem." The Imperial said, placing the package on the nearby table. "Now, young Mer, it's getting late. I believe Sellus Gravius gave you some money upon your release? You should have enough to afford a bed for the night at the South Wall Corner Club, and I expect to see you in the morning, understood?" Raedyn nodded, still coughing. "Good. Now off with ye, I've a package to decode." He finished off, sounding like the typical posh Imperial as he sat down at the small table in the room.
Raedyn slowly got to his feet, and with equal lethargy, left the small house and made his way, through the torrential downpour, to the club he passed on his way to the old man. The cold, stinging rain was a welcome distraction, and not from his aching body.
He laid in his room awake as the nightly hours passed, staring at the far wall with the focus of one who wanted to shut out the world. He liked this room. It was small, dark, quiet, with nothing but the rain pebbling the resin and clay roof and the soft gay banter from a few patrons of the club to break up the serenity. He saw everything in the room, and would know instantly if there was anything out of place. For the first time since arriving in Morrowind, he felt safe. The warmth of the room, soft bed and bedding, and the lack of soaked clothing, which now hung at the foot posts of the bed, were only minor commodities. He liked it in there, it felt like his cell, back in Cyrodiil.
The small, cramped dungeon cell may have been cold and damp, but while he was there, he was safe. The first nights in prison were daunting and outright painful, yet he quickly learned to yearn for his cell. He was safe there. He wouldn't be put to labor there. No one would attack him from behind in there. As long as he was alone in his cell, he was safe. It was only when others were in there, or when he was pulled out, did he have to be careful and watchful.
The small, cramped room was, like his cell, safe. And just like his cell, he became anxious when he left it. The open spaces were daunting to him, filling him with fear and paranoia, dissolving him into a nervous coward, constantly looking over his shoulder for the knife he knew wasn't really there. He couldn't stop thinking he wasn't safe when he was outside his little cell.
Seven years, more than a quarter of his life wasted in the mills and mines and quarries. For so many years, he wanted to leave those, and when he did, they wouldn't leave him. The Emperor probably knew how much worse he was being released after so long. Uriel Septim truly deserved his place as the highest voice amongst Imperials. If only he had left him alone, he wouldn't be so scared. If only he…
Raedyn knew none of this wouldn't have happened if only he had let it go. If only he hadn't killed that man.
Hungry and homeless on the streets of Chorrel, the nineteen year old Dunmer lived by stealing food, and defending himself with his dagger. He stole what he could, forcefully took what he couldn't, and when the authorities got involved, he ran, only to eventually wander into another settlement and repeat the cycle, knowing there would eventually be no place for him to hide. All his praying to the Nine did him no good. Not even the priests would help him.
It all changed one day, when an apple he stole fell from his hands, and started rolling down the inclined cobblestone street, only to be crushed by a horses hoof. He just stood there, staring at the red and off-white mess now adorning the street, as the Imperial Noble on his steed continued on. He had risked jail, fines, and a beating, only to have his catch crushed by someone who couldn't be bothered to care.
As the Noble began to pass him, the human noticed the angered and pained look in the dirty Mer's eyes, looking at his ruined meal. Then he saw those red eyes turn on him, as he refused to get fully out of the way of the horse. After correcting the horse to go around the barely adult Elf, the Imperial muttered, "Filthy Mer urchin." He then lifted his foot from the stirrup, and viciously kicked the stuck-up peasant into a nearby puddle. The Noble continued on, as if nothing ignoble had happened, now adorning an irate frown.
The next moments were like a dream to Raedyn, as he pulled his dagger from his belt, stood up, and charged.
Ever since then, he regretted killing the man. The bastard deserved it, Raedyn would never admit otherwise. Yet it wasn't worth the cold nights, the horrible food, the painstaking labor, nor the indignities he suffered from the guards and inmates alike. It wasn't worth breaking his promise.
Raedyn, promise me not to run toward trouble, but away from it. If ever you're in trouble, just run.
"Mother." He whispered. "I'm sorry. I wish I could run away now." He couldn't. He knew the Captain's threat was real. All his bravado and claims were merely bluffs: he never wanted to go back to prison. In the hours that he'd been on Vvardenfell, he had often imagined that, were the Legions to come after him, that he would fight his way out, refusing to be taken alive, and fighting until he died. He wasn't so foolish, so naïve to believe he would be that brave, in that moment. "I can't run. I'm sorry."
End of Chapter One.
Author's Notes: Kinda boring, I know. Well, I'd like a little more than simply 'this is good' or whatever. I'd like to know what I'm doing well, and what I'm not doing well, if you can articulate such.