A/N: This story attacked me a few months back and wouldn't leave me alone, so here it is. It came to me after completing The Shivering Isles and then doing The Knights of the Nine expansion packs, and is basically my own version of The Knights of the Nine story. The story begins around twelve years after the end of the main game story line, and will contain spoilers, though I've taken my share of liberties with many aspects of the game and NPC personalities. My PC, Elowyn Demark, is the same character from the short one shot Lifelines, but you don't have to have read that story to follow this one at all. Her backstory will slowly come into focus, so bear with me if things are confusing at certain points. There are some sketches of Elowyn on my dA account (there's a link on my profile page) if anyone is curious how she looks to me. This story has a lot of silliness and is, at its core, a romantic story, but I hope people don't take it too seriously. It was fun to write and I hope people find it fun to read as well. :) Reviews and constructive feedback are always welcome.
Warning: This story is rated T and may contain some degree of foul language, nudity, sexual and/or sexist banter/innuendo, drunkenness, bad singing, Sheogorathian behavior, vampires, blood/gore, violence and cake. If any of that may offend you, feel free to not read any further.
Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of Oblivion or any characters, plots or other elements there within, and I gain no monetary profit from the writing of this story. I do claim responsibility for Elowyn Demark and one or two random characters scattered throughout the story. But again, they don't earn me any money. The little leeches.
The portal swirled before her, the colors tumbling over themselves in a slow, hypnotic roll. An almost-smile graced the woman's lips as she reached out, her fingers fluttering through the cool mist, and she was content to stand there in silence for a time, contemplating the meaning of the chaotic spectrum of light.
There had to be a meaning, of course. All things had meaning. Except for things that did not. What would happen to a person who discovered the meaning of things which had no meaning? Though, could not the very lack of meaning be considered a meaning? Her musings came to a standstill as she realized someone stood behind her.
"You are going back, I presume."
The Redguard let her hand fall back to her side, a small sigh breaking from her mouth, but she did not turn to face the tall, lean man behind her. Her voice when it finally came was as methodical and droning as that of her companion, as though she was intentionally mocking him. "Whatever gave you that impression?"
"An educated guess, as you are standing here with that look upon your face."
"There's a look?" She smirked at the portal, her eyes focused on some distant point. "I had no idea. Why didn't you tell me sooner? Should I be worried?"
The man indulged in a tiny sigh. "No. It would likely make little difference."
"Hmm, but how can you be sure? Perhaps it would make all the difference. No, you're probably right. You usually are. Sometimes." She sent him a quick glance over her shoulder. "Have I ever told you you're a wise man, Haskill?"
"Yes, madam, on occasion you have."
"That's a relief, hmm? It's difficult to tell if I've said something or just thought about saying something sometimes. Does that ever happen to you? Well," she shook her head faintly and rolled one shoulder in a shrug, "to answer your question, yes, I'm going back."
"May I inquire why?"
"I don't know." Her blood-red eyes traced the edges of the portal and her face lost all expression. "Just riding on a feeling, I suppose."
Restraining a frown, Haskill moved his reedy form around to one side of her to try to study her face. "You said that very same thing the day you arrived here."
"Did I?" she wondered, her voice tinged with amusement. "Well…I lied. I'm surprised you fell for it. I'm usually quite bad at deception, wouldn't you agree? No, that wasn't a feeling at all. It was…" she laughed suddenly, a cold, harsh sound, "that was running away, Haskill. Though I suppose technically I was running from a feeling. Many feelings…most feelings. Is that the same thing, hmm?"
"I must ask. Are you running now?"
She turned her face to him, a hard, ruthless stare in place of her former bemusement, but the man seemed immune to the threat of her wrath. "If you think angering me will convince me to change my mind about this…you could be right, but it's a risk. Are you willing to take it?"
"I do not hope to anger you, Madgod," Haskill assured her with a slight bow of his head. "I only hope you know what you are doing."
"I never know what I'm doing," she declared with a dismissive wave of her hand, her face once more oriented on the portal. The reddish metal beads at the tips of her braids clacked together faintly each time she shook her head as she spoke, as if to emphasize her words. "I didn't know what I was doing when I came here, I didn't know what I was doing when I stayed, and I surely don't know what I'm doing now. Though I'll pretend if that will help." She let out a slow sigh to try to relax her rigid shoulders, and adjusted the enormous, lumpy pack tucked under her cloak. "Perhaps it's this place. I need…I need a change of perspective. Or perhaps a reminder of what perspective is. I need to put the madness behind me. For now."
Haskill slowly nodded his understanding, then said with an uncharacteristic gentleness, "What will you do then if you discover that the madness is not of this place, but rather of you?"
The woman looked thoughtful for a moment, then a slow, sad smile found its way across her face. Pointed canine teeth flashed behind her lips as she told him, "Then I'll return, my friend. What else can I do? I'll probably do that anyway, so what's the difference, hmm? But until then…" She stepped forward into the portal, closing her eyes and surrendering herself to its cool embrace as the magic washed over her.
Return soon, Madgod.
She smiled as Haskill's voice tickled her ear, grateful in many ways for his concern, even if it was not as sincere as she took it to be, and she was still smiling faintly when her feet touched solid ground once more. There was a pause and she hesitated to open her eyes to this world, her world of the past, and instead stood breathing in the fresh breeze gusting off the Niben Bay. Something like fear prickled at the back of her mind, an odd mixture of worry that she would be recognized, and sadness that she might not, and many other things besides. Her moment of reverie was shattered by the sound of armor creaking, and the distinct ring of a sword being drawn.
"Akatosh preserve me!" the Imperial guard gasped just as she snapped her eyes open and fixed him with a curious stare. He was not the same guard who had been posted there when she had first entered this portal, but that had been many years ago. Too many, she could not help but think. The Imperial stared at her in wide-eyed horror, his drawn sword trembling in his grip, and it took her only a moment to realize the monster he must see as he looked upon her.
With speed she had not used in months, the woman lunged forward, one hand twisting his sword out to the side in an iron grip and the other resting lightly on the horrified man's cheek. "Easy friend," she soothed, holding his gaze with hers as she wove a subtle, instinctive magic into her very words. "Hear me. There's nothing to fear. I'm not going to kill you. I am your friend."
The terror seeped out of the guard's expression, his face went slack and his wide eyes glazed over with compliance. Slowly his sword arm lowered until the blade slipped from his limp grasp and clattered against the rocky ground underfoot.
"That's a good man," Elowyn breathed with a smile, stepping closer to him in something like an embrace. "Don't worry. It doesn't hurt. Well, not me at least."
Moments later, she gently lowered the unconscious guard to the hard ground and checked his pulse. His breathing and heartbeat were both quickened, but she knew he would recover from the small taste of blood she had taken from him.
She, on the other hand, was slammed with a brutal hunger, a gnawing agony that had slept restlessly within her for some time. The sudden urge to tear out the helpless Imperial's throat washed over her, a fierce longing to watch the spark of life within him sputter and die, but she forced herself back into control with a quiet chuckle.
"Rest, friend," Elowyn murmured as she backed away from him and slipped into the shadows. "Dream well, and when you wake, tell everyone of the beast who emerged from the portal. Perhaps they'll think you mad and you may join me in my realm when I return. That'll be fun, hmm?"