I've gotten hooked on Oblivion lately, and it's inspired me to try my hand at a few oneshots. Like most, this fanfic centres around the game's protagonist, and how she deals with the aftermath of the Oblivion crisis – because I find it hard to believe there wouldn't be some psychological damage there.
Mentions of Martin Septim and Lucien Lachance. You could call it romance if you squinted enough, but I wouldn't class it as such myself. There is, after all, such a thing as love without lust.
Disclaimer: Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls IV belongs to...Bethesda, I believe? Not me, anyhow.
Kvatch is where it started, she reckons.
She doesn't really remember what she saw there, although she must've done at the time, because she recalls being shocked into silence. The people had taken her mumbled replies for embarrassed modesty, and praised her name all the more – they hadn't realised she'd barely heard the words spoken to her.
But mind you, Kvatch alone isn't enough to change her, only affect her. It was the countless other Gates, the hours upon hours of fighting daedra in Dagon's realm, all for the aid of Bruma, all for the cities that refused to help her otherwise. It all becomes a blur of black, red and orange; it burns her eyes and her mind, forever, yet as soon as the Gate has been closed, she can't remember any of it.
And the more Gates she shuts, the easier it becomes, the sight of blood-encrusted walls and hanging, mutilated corpses no longer affecting her; it's just another routine sight, and she soon forgets all about it. Sleeping becomes harder, though; not for the images, but for the noise. Oblivion was full of it – of clanking, scraping, screeching metal, of the wails of the tortured and the hellish voices of the dremora. Roaring fires and hissing smoke, crashing thunder under a screaming red sky, endless, endless, endless.
She starts avoiding crowds. The people label her as shy. She doesn't try to correct them.
She prefers sleeping in Cloud Ruler Temple to her own home. It's quiet up there, and the Blades are rarely rowdy, given they must remain vigilant. Martin is there, and he's as softly-spoken as they come: the voice of a priest, not someone used to giving orders and silencing arguments. It's no good for an Emperor to speak quietly, but to her, it's a blessing – and, she's pretty certain, the reason she stays sane for so long.
When Martin dies, then she truly falls from grace.
The noise never leaves her, not even with the knowledge that Oblivion is gone for good, that she'll never have to return. Even Cloud Ruler Temple brings her no peace, and somehow the fire seems to roar instead of gently crackle. She sleeps in the snow occasionally, but she still feels as though she's drowning in fire. She tries Skooma, but doesn't really like it. Purposefully hunts down bandits, even the ones smart enough to run away from her, but it brings her no satisfaction. She even thieves here and there, not because she needs the money, just to distract herself. It never lasts long.
This goes on, and the sound of Oblivion never gets any more bearable. She must've lost her mind somewhere along the way, she muses, but she can't remember hearing a snap. She can't remember much at all, not even how that beggar woman had ended up dead at her feet, or why her hands were covered in blood.
More, something in her says. And with no righteous mission to consider, no Martin to hold her together, she gives in to her own demands.
It's some time before she sleeps in a location deemed 'secure'. She awakens to coldness, stillness – and a complete absence of sound. Someone is here, she notices, but only because he isn't trying to hide himself. She sits up, shivering slightly – it's freezing, especially since she hasn't felt the cold in so long. And it's perfectly, unnaturally silent.
The man seems pleasantly surprised at the cheerful smile she gives him, if only momentarily. She knows who he is, of course – not by name, but who he represents. He's here to recruit her, not kill her, although she would've welcomed either one. He steps forwards, cast in icy moonlight: white, blue, grey. Black too, yes, but different from Oblivion, so cold. And when he speaks it's just as cool, slightly raspy, tinged with madness. And above all, quiet.
"You sleep...rather unsoundly, for a murderer."
She remains long after the other Brotherhood members have left, staring at Lucien. What used to be Lucien. Her speaker, her mentor...in many ways, her saviour.
Now a corpse. Mutilated. Hanging upside-down. Exactly like the countless bodies that had become such a regular sight for her, framed by smoke and fire. Her skin prickles with heat, even though it's a winter night. Black, red and orange dances before her eyes, no discernible shapes.
And slowly, the sound of Oblivion starts up again.