LAURELS: The Scenic Route
Setting: Between leaving Kvatch and taking Martin to Weynon Priory.
Content: A slightly grumpy Martin. Nothing questionable. This is what happened when I decided to do Oblivion fics for my daily writing exercises.
The road to Weynon Priory seemed longer than it should have, Martin thought. For a woman who seemed so well acquainted with destiny, Brynn Laurel didn't seem that keen on getting him there. On the other hand, perhaps she was allowing him time to come to terms with the life-changing news she'd given him in Kvatch. Martin was just ready for a real night's sleep.
"If this is your idea of a scenic route, I'm not sure I like it," he noted grumpily one morning as he crawled out of a tent that had formerly belonged to a bandit. Of course, the bandit was dead and had been dragged off into the underbrush, but Martin didn't like sleeping in a tent that wasn't his.
"I know you don't," Brynn sighed wearily as she prepared breakfast. Martin wondered for a split second if she had gotten any sleep at all last night. "But this is our road. I suggest you tolerate it, sire."
Martin fumed silently. He still didn't fully believe that this wasn't simply a terrible dream, and hearing her call him "sire" only made it worse. Then again, she only did it when she was upset—or trying to upset him. That part was definitely working.
They got started soon enough, setting off across the yellow hills of the Gold Coast. Chorrol was, what, a four day trip from Kvatch? They could have been there by now if Brynn hadn't decided on the "scenic route." Martin knew his mood was going to be sour all day, and no number of prayers to the Nine would make it better. Besides, why were they going southwest? Chorrol and the priory were north of Kvatch! Instead, they'd meandered to Skingrad because Brynn had something to do there, and now they were going back past Kvatch, toward Anvil. Martin didn't understand the necessity of meandering all over Cyrodiil when the road to Chorrol was right there and all they had to do was get on it and walk.
They made it to Anvil by sundown, though Martin's mood still hadn't improved. Brynn's feet were exhausted, so they stopped atop a hill while she rested. Martin was wary, tense. They had a tendency to be attacked by wildlife at dusk, and he was so sick of fighting for his life. He'd been doing that since the attack.
But while Brynn rested, he found himself gazing west, taking note of the sunset. Anvil was spread out below him, with the docks and the sea beyond. Gulls sailed through the air, calling out with their shrill cries. Slowly, the sun sank in the sky, almost wearily as it smeared orange and pink across the sky, scattering gold across the blue waters. Martin found himself sinking down onto the log Brynn was sitting on as he watched the sunset until his eyes watered. By the Nine, it was one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen in his life.
As the flaming sky died down to the dusty hues of dusk, Martin blinked. Purple and green spots danced before his eyes, and he finally got them to clear, turning toward Brynn. She was watching him, smiling faintly. That was when he understood what the "scenic route" was about: making the uptight, worried priest from Kvatch see the simple beauties that existed in spite of grand destinies and weak barriers between Nirn and Oblivion. He felt like an idiot for not seeing it before, especially not when Brynn Laurel, the Nerevarine and the most radiant Dunmer woman he'd ever seen, was trying so hard to show it to him. He abruptly remembered the trip to Skingrad, the long walk through the hills and into the vineyards under a clear blue sky. She'd been trying for days to make him see.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" she asked him, her voice soft and lilting. Martin suddenly found his gaze fixed on hers; her ruby eyes seemed to gleam purple in the haze of evening.
"...yes, very," he murmured, though he wasn't sure if he meant the sunset or her eyes.
She smiled softly and got to her feet, heading down the hill for the road into Anvil. Martin followed her, trying to see the city as she did. He could feel the cool ocean breeze, taste the salt in the air. He watched as Brynn walked toward the gate, stooping to gently pluck the leaves off an aloe plant by the gate, tucking them into a pouch on her belt before walking on. The guard opened the gate for them, and Martin slipped in after her.
The streetlights flickered warmly as they entered the city square. To his left, Martin saw the most fascinating statue of a mermaid and started wandering over to it. Brynn was behind him as he went to explore, but he soon noticed that she wasn't simply following him to the statue. The house right next door was her destination, and she fished a key out of her belt as she went to a side gate and pushed it open, heading up the walk to the door. Martin quickly followed her, shutting the gate behind himself as Brynn unlocked the front door.
"Is this your home?" he asked, looking at the tightly closed buds of the morning glories crawling up the stone walls. Brynn looked at him and smiled as she opened the door for him.
"It is," she replied, immediately heading to light the candles and lamps. Warm light filled the front room after she stooped to build a fire, and Martin couldn't help but notice the coziness of the house.
"It's beautiful," he remarked, looking around. He slowly approached a bookshelf there in the sitting room and marveled at Brynn's collection. Brynn looked up at him and smiled, though he didn't notice as he pulled a copy of the Divines' commandments from the shelf, flipping through it even though he knew it by heart.
"The bedroom's upstairs," she said, getting to her feet once the fire was roaring. "Since there's only one, you may have it. You haven't slept well in days, so I think it's only fair."
"No, this is your house," Martin protested, almost losing his train of thought. Gods, she was so gorgeous in the firelight, even though he had no right to think so and that thought was completely inappropriate. "I don't think—"
Brynn raised a hand to silence him.
"I wasn't asking you if you wanted it," she said. "The room is yours. In fact, treat this house as if you own it. Don't be afraid to make yourself comfortable."
"Thank you," he managed to stammer, putting the book back on its shelf without knocking them all down. "I will."
Brynn gave him a smile and headed upstairs to change out of her armor. When she came back in a plain green robe, her hair long and brushed out, and ventured into the kitchen to make something for dinner, Martin couldn't help but watch her before he glanced heavenward. Surely the Nine had had no real reason for sending such a remarkable woman to rescue him, Nerevarine or no. But he knew better than anyone: the gods almost always had a reason for the simplest of things.