My second Oblivion fic. The first was a flop, so I deleted it.
A fair warning to all. I switch between my Assassin's Creed fic, my book and now this rather quickly, so sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not, but when I start a story, it always, always sucks. But trust me when I say that it will get better. And Lucien will come in later. I promise.
I own nothing. Bethesda owns all. They are the almighty overlords of Oblivion and don't anyone forget it. They created this.
Song: Kids, MGMT
Green grass, long and untamed, rippled in the deep forest. Trees towered, immeasurable, into the heavens; moss and fungus adorned their ancient trunks, as well as herbivorous insects and dark, peeling bark. Birds chirped contently to each other, singing sweet songs in the muffled quiet of the wet forest. The sun inquired through the tall green branches of the trees, her pale light lighting the morning dew into specks of liquid gold. A doe nuzzled through the grass, her hooves gently snapping twigs and the soft shells of her ears swiveling and listening.
An odd puff of breath made a tiny cloud of fog in the chill air. Something grey glittered dully in a ray of sun, accompanied by a stretching noise and the sharp breaking of a stick. The doe immediately snapped to attention, eyes wide, but unable to detect another presence. After a moment of hesitation, she put her nose back to nibbling at the grass.
An almost-silent twang echoed through the awakening forest; a sliver of grey and brown darted through the air and struck the doe square in the neck. The animal fell with hardly a noise. A stream of bright blood began the run down the short fur of the deer before I ripped the arrow back and returned it to my quiver.
I pulled a curved dagger from my belt and began to skin the animal. My out-of-place black hair fell over my face, exposing long pointed ears. I glanced over my shoulder as my hands skillfully skinned the doe in a matter of minutes before I gathered as much meat as I could carry in my pack and took off through the forest, my calloused bare feet sliding across the moist grass as I sprinted.
I have enough food now. I thought to myself. Today I can leave. I can steal Cyrodiilic clothes from a merchant or adventurers. If I run out of arrows I can use my knife or make more.
My pace slowed as I approached my makeshift camp. The majority of brush had been pushed away, creating a large circle of surprisingly soft plant life to sleep on. The plants were too short to cut away and would have grown back in a fortnight anyway. The Green Pact would have prevented me from doing so, but I did not abide by the Pact.
A ring of stones made the outline for a small fire pit; half-burned pieces of wood lay on top of moist ash. Pushing aside the black wood with my foot, I prodded the drier ash underneath until I saw the glow of red coals from my fire last night. Removing the piece of cloth over the large pile of wood I had set aside, I put a handful of dry twigs and leaves in the fire to restart it, keeping my hands back from the flare that erupted after the leaves immediately caught fire.
Taking the venison out of my pack, I speared the strips with sticks and laid them on top of two vertical logs to dry and smoke. After making sure that they were secure, I laid on my makeshift bedroll and reached into my pack to look at my map, a very nice one that charted the entirety of Tamriel. My eyes quickly found the tiny hole I had poked into the parchment to mark my location; the far north of Valenwood, west of Arenthia, a city that I had never visited, and slightly east of a river that I did not know the name of. Like so many times before, I traced my finger along the path I would take to the nearest city in Cyrodiil—a large settlement by the name of Skingrad.
The city of Dune in Elsweyr was just as close, but I had learned about other provinces, and Elsweyr had the same thick, wet rainforests as Valenwood, and I couldn't stand it anymore.
It was the same surroundings. The same sweltering humidity, the same constant rain. I craved something different—I wanted to walk through fields of grain, and eat grapes off the vine, and sail on a boat. But the thing I wanted most in the entire world was to see snow. Beautiful white snow. I wanted to taste it, roll in it, watch it dance down to earth. Smiling at the thought, I rolled onto my back, still clutching my map, and slowly fell asleep.
The child giggled as she looked at her friend. The Bosmer, perhaps seven winters old, was staring in fascinated horror at the largest bug either of them had ever seen. The beetle was as big as two of their pudgy fists, armored in black and sporting six spindly, barbed legs. It sat on the ground between the two children, not moving in terror.
The girl looked up at her friend. "Poke it, Nulem!" She pointed at the crooked stick the other was holding in his hand.
The boy broke out of his trance to stare at her in disbelief, dirty blond hair flopping across his round features. "No way am I touching that thing, Vala! Why don't you, if you're so brave!" Indignant, he shoved the stick into her tiny hands, leaning precariously over the insect between them to do so.
Vala pouted, her tiny eyebrows furrowing. "Fine, I will. But you have to stop being mean or I'm gonna tell my Mum on you, and you'll be in trouble!"
Smiling in victory, she looked down at the beetle and crinkled her nose. Holding up the stick so her elbow was in the air, she gave the black bug a sharp stab. The beetle, startled, took off into the air, buzzing with the force of its large wings and circling above the heads of the two. The children screamed and jumped to their feet, waving their arms over their heads as they sprinted with all the energy in their short legs back to the closest house to the branch they had been perched on, which happened to be Vala's.
As they approached, a young woman with raven-black hair jogged out of the house, panicked at the sound of the children's shrieks. She fell to one knee the same instant the two Bosmer crashed into her knees.
Before she could ask anything, Vala looked up to her, face flushed, and blurted, "Mum, Mum! We found this great huge beetle on the branch so me and Nulem thought we could see it up close so we went out there and brought this stick to poke it with but Nulem was being a baby and didn't want to so I poked it but then it flew away and started to attack us and I think it was deadly because it was completely black!"
Blinking as she took in the rush of information, Vala's mother remained silent for a moment before laughing a high, bell-like tinkle. "Okay, I get it." She looked between the two children putting on a very serious face. "That bug really could have been deadly, couldn't it?" The two nodded vigorously. "Well, in that case, I suppose that you two were being very brave adventurers!"
The children glanced at each other, not having thought of this before.
"In honor of your courageous victory over the deadly beetle," The woman went on, adding slight sarcasm to the word 'deadly'. "I propose I cook lunch for the two daring adventurers!"
The boy and the girl cheered, and, smiling at this pleasant turn of events, they each took one of the woman's hands as they walked into her house.
My eyes snapped open. Judging by the position of the sun, it seemed to be mid-afternoon. Sun shone gaily through the branches, the chirping and cooing of birds echoing through the lush jungle. Moisture had settled on every surface, creating a thin sheet of water across the plant life.
The dream had been vivid, a long-forgotten piece of my past. It was not something I had intended to forget—it was one of my fondest childhood memories. But somehow it had gotten lost, buried underneath the piles of rubble and dust that was my mind.
The smell of cooked meat wafted into my nostrils, gently pulling me from my thoughts; the strips of venison were dry and cooked enough to store for a long period of time. standing, I pulled the thin strips of meat from the charred sticks and packed them neatly into my pack. My bedroll could be left—it was only layers of soft leaves. Making sure I had all of my possessions—my bow, arrows, dagger, compass, and food—I grabbed my homemade wineskin and walked to find a puddle of rainwater.
Bending over at the smooth mirror of water, I observed my reflection with mild interest. I was not and never had been too concerned about my appearance; but considering my features at what I counted to be twenty-and-one winters—pasty white complexion, too-red lips, too-dark eyebrows, too-black hair, and gaunt cheekbones—it seemed to make sense that I would have been. I accepted that this was how I looked, and no amount of products would change that. My eyes were often complimented; they were perhaps my only truly acceptable feature, a startlingly bright blue with lashes as dark as my hair.
Frowning at the latter, I pulled my dagger from my belt and held it up to the raven locks. Running a hand through my hair, I decided that waist-length was quite too long; my pale hand hesitated for a split second—memories like my dream flitted through my mind, images of a laughing young woman, a towering city and a walking tree—before my hand slipped slightly, cutting my hand from the wrist to the forefinger across the back of my hand. The sudden pain snapped me away and, before I could think differently, I gathered all of my hair in my good hand and whipped the blade upward, as close to my neck as I could without cutting myself again. The locks fell limp, and, sighing, I dropped the hair into the water, reveling in the feel of the warm air against the back of my neck. I shook my head, my hair now only a hand long from the crown of my head.
The corners of my mouth twitched, but it wasn't a smile—not yet. I dipped the wineskin into the puddle, filling it almost halfway. Grabbing my pack, I jumped to my feet, grabbed my compass, and took off running north.