The Private Journal of Marcus Crumina

[Quite surprisingly, this document, though obviously related to the case of Etanni the Dunmer, was not used as evidence; most likely this occurred due to the Imperial Legion's more than well-known abruptness in carrying out investigations. The manuscript was discovered much later, when Etanni was already widely known as the Champion of Cyrodiil, and published by the Elder Council as an appendix to the biography of this extraordinary Dunmer maiden]

Rain's Hand 3rd (4th?), 3E 423.

The accursed sand storm seems to be dying down. It is about time! It lasted for what – three, four nights? I have completely lost track of time, what with these red clouds sprawled all over the sky. In any case, I will soon be able to finally crawl out of this hole of an inn; I don't think I could have stood it much longer. The dirty, creased linen; the disgusting mush brewed out of bizarre local plants that they seriously expect people to eat; the more than dirty regulars glaring out of every corner of the dining room; the strange, squawking, scratching noises outside that start every time I try to go to sleep – and, worst of all, the fellow who runs this joint! That old buzzard is slowly driving me absolutely and utterly over the edge. I have never been the one for describing people's appearances, but I will give it a try, as I have most surely not seen the likes of him before, even on this side of Morrowind border. Quite a pretty picture he makes, too. Wrinkled skin the colour of putrid stew, small red eyes glittering coal-like from beneath ruffled eyebrows, a monstrously oversized crooked nose, thin cracked lips which he keeps licking not unlike some feral predator, voice like a nail scraping on glass – just the kind of dear friendly Dark Elf that won't hesitate to slice your throat if he is in the mood for it. Every time he as much as turns his head in my direction I feel both disgusted and terrified. Who knows what morbid thoughts might be lurking through the dark depths of his doubtlessly primitive mind?
Ah, yes, and there also is the child. His grand-daughter, apparently. Slender, light-footed, glinting eyes and teeth. Always running around, moving chairs, picking up used plates – I can't call them 'dirty" because they are dirty even before the guests have eaten out of them – arranging pillows, serving drinks… Though the little minx can't be older than thirteen, judging by the sly looks she keeps giving me over her bare, blueberry-coloured shoulder, she is simply dreaming of dragging me to bed. I will bet my loot bag that she is. Her kind always are. This makes me uneasy. Oh, dear gods, I can't wait to leave this stinking pig pen and make my way towards the ruins! This time my plan will not fail. It must not fail. I shall loot that place; by Lord Vile, I shall!

Rain's Hand 5th, 3E 423.

Thank the gods! The sky is clearing up! I am already starting to gather my supplies. Leaving! Leaving – at long last! Oh, the Dwemer treasure! Oh, the divine loot! I can't wait to get my hands on it! Praise Clavicus Vile! I am so close to wealth, it is almost intoxicating!

Later.

I had to make a small delay in order to enter this in my journal. Something exceedingly uncanny has just happened, well worth making a note of.
I was fumbling about in my room, preparing potions – Feather for carrying off the loot, and Invisibility for escaping from things that might be guarding it – when this little Dark Elf wench entered, very slowly, quite unlike her usual spring-heeled self. She gaped at me for a while, her eyes wide open and unblinking, and her face strangely expressionless. My first guess was that she might be under the influence of Skooma – not a great surprise in these barbaric lands – so I attempted to push her out of the room, saying, quite irritably, something along the lines of 'Get out of here!' But she wouldn't budge, and went on staring at me. As I scrutinized her blank face more carefully, I suddenly realized that she was muttering something under her breath, very fast and almost without moving her lips. Struck with sudden fear that it might be some kind of evil incantation – for all I knew, her grandfather could have had a little whim to get me cursed; as I said, one never knows with these savages – I gave her another forceful push and cried out, 'Stop it! If you wish to get rid of me, there is no need for any spells! I am about to leave! See?' I waved my hand vaguely at the potion bottles and pouches and lockpicks strewn untidily all over the room and at the empty loot bag lying on my bed, 'I will not be coming back!'. The girl shook her head, still unblinking, and said, in a voice so loud and shrill that it made me jump back, 'Oh but you will, outlander. What you seek has already been taken. You will return, empty-handed, bitter, and bleeding'. As she spoke, I felt my face flush with a wave red-hot anger. If this was her idea of a joke, I was not going to abide it. No true-born Imperial will ever tolerate such insolence from a filthy Dark Elf brat! I raised my hand, ready to strike her, and said through gritted teeth, 'How dare you speak to me like this, Ashlands scum!'. But just as I was about to slap the cheeky little twitch across the face, her grandfather loomed in the doorway behind her back. He grabbed her by the shoulders and ushered her out of the room, muttering something like 'I thought I told you to stay put!'. Then he turned to me abruptly and snarled, 'If she said anything to you, outlander, you'd best forget it. She is sick and cannot control herself'. With these words, and with a look that could have burnt the skin off my face, he slammed the door shut, leaving me completely flabbergasted.
At first I found myself besieged by countless nagging questions that made my head swim. But now that I have made a more or less accurate account of the incident in my journal, I feel much less agitated. After all, this is no business of mine. The child is clearly out of her mind, and further musing on the subject would be just a waste of valuable time. I now regard this mysterious occurrence merely as an illustration of what one might come across in the melting pot of violence and insanity that is Morrowind.

Rain's Hand 6th, 3E 423.

I can't believe it! I just can't believe it! Empty! The ruins were empty – stripped clean of all the valuables! Another one of my easy cash schemes ruined! What have I done to deserve this? Have I not been a devout worshipper of Clavicus Vile? Have I not…

[Here the manuscript is smudged and spluttered with a sizeable amount of blood]

Rain's Hand 12th, 3E 423.

I have finally recovered the use of my right arm, so now I can relate the happenings of the last few days. Hardly had I got out of the empty ruins and settled down in my makeshift campsite in order to pour out my frustration in my journal, when a flock of cliff racers attacked me from above. I had never seen so many of them all at once. They tore down my tent, scattered my belongings around in the grey mud, and one of them tore a largish chunk of flesh out of my arm. I am by no means a warrior; never have been. So the only possible option I had at the time was to run, and run I did, with the abominable creatures chasing me, making occasional dives at my back, until I dropped breathless on the doorstep of the very inn that I had been so rejoiced at leaving. I must have lost consciousness, because the next clear memory I have is that of sitting in my old bed, propped up against a stack of pillows, the Dark Elf minx feeding me something dirty-white and wriggly out of a cracked ceramic bowl. As I took a glimpse of her face, once again alive with emotion and lit up with that broad, glinting smile of hers, her words came flashing back into my mind. 'What you seek has already been taken. You will return, empty-handed, bitter, and bleeding'. My heart thrashing against my ribs, my temples throbbing violently, my hands suddenly numb and clammy, I relived all that had happened since the strange episode in my room, and each memory was now a revelation. The empty ruins, the attack of the cliff racers, my disgraceful flight, my return to the inn… It all fit in perfectly with the little Dark Elf's words! So these were not demented ramblings, but a prediction of the future! The frantic work of my mind must have displayed itself in my expression, because the girl frowned and asked me if there was something wrong. 'Wrong!' I exclaimed, making an exasperated gesture with my good hand, 'And you have the nerve to ask this? I will tell you what is wrong, my dear red-eyed friend! Either you have jinxed my dungeon-diving quest – or you are a promising Seer!'. The child looked sincerely astounded. 'I have no idea what you are talking about, outlander,' she replied sternly.
Further questioning revealed that she remembered – or pretended to remember – nothing about what had happened in the afternoon of the fifth; nothing beyond being severely whipped by a neighbouring farmer for creeping onto his land and making off with a bunch of that weird vegetation that they grow here for food. Having confessed to this, she suddenly clasped her hands to her mouth, as if she had disclosed something that should have been kept secret, and dashed out of the room.
The next day I felt that my strength was more or less restored, and started moving about the inn, but ever since that talk of ours the wench keeps eluding me; and her grandfather's silent stares have become even fiercer than before – if that is possible.
I know I could have moved out of the inn, and perhaps I ought to, since I do not feel myself at all welcome here. However, I am less than inclined to do so. I am finding myself strangely interested in this girl and her… I suppose I might call it a gift. Perhaps I should find a merchant who sells spell scrolls, particularly those of the Illusion kind… I have some information to wheedle out…

Rain's Hand 14th, 3E 423.

It worked out far better than I had expected. To say that I am extremely pleased with myself would be as much of an understatement as to say 'Nirn is kinda big'.
I obtained the necessary scrolls – at a bargain price too, I might add – but as the girl was not around when I returned, I decided to try them out on the grandfather. It is a good thing that I used some extra magic assistance and did not rely entirely on my natural Imperial abilities; the old Elf proved to be a hard nut to crack. But when the spells finally took effect, he told me the story of his life without being asked to. Before he got to the point, I had to listen to an extremely long and tiresome rant about the good old days of yore, and how everything was so much better three hundred years ago, and how he, a humble netch herder, was hired as a wilderness guide by some kind of expedition, and how he made friends with a Breton named Val-something, and how this Val person got lost in a Dwemer ruin, supposedly inhabited by vampires, and so on and so forth, yadda-yadda-yadda, till he finally reached the subject of today's youngsters and in particular his grand-daughter.
And this is where it gets exciting. Apparently, this girl, when in a state of acute physical pain, falls into a sort of trance and says strange things, things that later come true. The child herself is unaware of her extraordinary abilities, as she remembers nothing of her predictions afterwards; all she knows is that she has sort of blackouts every time she hurts herself. The old codger prefers to keep her little secret to himself, and forbids the child to tell anyone about her strange lapses of sickness, for, as he put it, 'there is no telling what they might want to use my Etanni's gift for'. I must say that this has been quite informative. Quite informative…

[The following entries have been made on mismatched scraps of paper, in rather wobbly handwriting]

Later.

I keep getting this strange thought… Supposing if I abducted the child and used her as my own personal oracle? The old buzzard simply puts her talent to waste, but I – oh, I can sense great profit in this. For one thing, we could make fortune-telling sessions for superstitious rich men all across the Empire; for another, I could ask young Etanni for useful advice myself every now and then…
Ah, but I almost forgot… it involves violence… The child must be subjected to strong pain in order to make predictions… No, that will not do. After all, I am an honest treasure hunter, not a sadistic freak.
Yes, but… but it does not really matter, does it? I mean, she is a Dark Elf, a savage, little more than a beast… She won't mind being hurt a little every now and then, will she? And besides, I will try to make amends… I will give her a better home, good education; I will introduce her to culture – real, refined, Imperial culture…

Later.

Gods give me strength! I must get out of this place, away from this terrible temptation!

Later.

I must pray to Lord Vile; maybe he will help me find a solution…

Rain's Hand 13th, 3E 423.

Last night, Lord Vile granted me a vision. I saw myself a content, wealthy man, living a life of pleasant leisure, basking in the lap of luxury; and all the riches I had ever dreamed of having, were mine… All mine…

[Here the handwriting gets firm again]

Oh, who cares what she will feel! Nobody ever cared what I felt – a failed merchant, a luckless treasure hunter, a chaser of day dreams…
This is my chance, and I will be a fool not to take it!

Rain's Hand 14th, 3E 423.

I did it. It was so terribly simple. I wonder what made me hesitate for so long. Just before supper time, I crept into the kitchen and slipped some sleeping draft into any dish that I could find; fortunately, there were not that many of them. I also paid a brief visit to the larder, in order to replenish my supplies, as most of them had been destroyed by the cliff racers; I could have bought some in town while I was looking for a spell merchant, but after all, a septim saved is a septim earned. Then I went to the innkeeper and said that I did not wish to take part in the common evening meal; to my immense pleasure, I was the only one to do so. Actually, I should not have wasted that much sleeping draft; most inn guests drank themselves to a stupor anyway. But, one way or the other, in less than half an hour's time I was the only person awake in the entire inn. So all I had to do was grab the unsuspecting Etanni and carry her off with me; she is quite light even for her age. Child's play, really. I must take extreme care in covering my trail, though; when the old Elf finds out, he might alert the guard – or even start chasing me himself. Judging by what he told me in his spell-induced frankness, he used to be quite a tracker in his younger day; he might very well still be in good shape.

Rain's Hand 16th, 3E 423.

[Here the edges of the page are once again smeared with blood]

Just as I had feared – in the early hours of the morning the old innkeeper caught up with us. He appeared suddenly, ghost-like, out of the mist, just as I was sitting near the campfire, working on Etanni – doing my utmost to convince her that my intentions were for the good of both of us. Before I could rise, he laid his dark, gnarled hand on my shoulder; I felt as if I was nailed to the ground with his iron grip. He bent close to me, his breath scorching my face, and raised another hand up to my throat; I shuddered, as I sensed the cold touch of steel against my skin. 'You will remain sitting here, outlander,' he hissed in my ear, 'Until the child moves out of your sight. Then you will gather your things and go in the opposite direction. Understood?'. I was just about to give him a meek nod, when something suddenly stirred in me – something strong, and bold, and obstinate. I had bent patiently beneath the blows of fate long enough, and I was not going to miss this chance as well – not when I was so close! I grabbed the old Elf by the wrist and, with tremendous effort pulled the blade away from my throat; then I lurched to my feet and knocked him down to the ground. I never suspected I had such strength in me – must be the power of despair. Without giving the old buzzard a moment to recover from the blow, I sprang at him and scissored his lean, sinewy body between my knees – and raised the knife that I had seized from him in the struggle. The girl screamed. The old Elf's eyes widened with mute terror. I struck down, not believing myself that I would kill him – that I could kill him; not until the very last moment. As the steaming, hot blood came spurting into my face, I laughed. I actually laughed. Laughed with relief that there was no one to chase me now, and laughed with the sudden realization of the irony of it all. But a fortnight ago, I was afraid that this old codger might slice my throat, and now look who slit whose!

Note to self: the girl Etanni took rather hard to her grandfather's demise. She is getting aggressive and uncooperative. Perhaps more Illusion magic is called for?

Rain's Hand 28th, 3E 423.

Have not had much time to keep a track of my journey across Morrowind. It has been long and tedious, and the girl's constant attempts at escape have done nothing to improve it. I need to buy an Illusion magic manual, in order to learn how to cast all these spells myself; for I am wasting far too much money to buy scrolls to subdue the little wretch. Come to think of it, I might also need a Destruction magic manual. I have not yet given a thought as to how I will be… prompting the girl to make her predictions. I think that Shock spells will be most effective. They are powerful – and clean. I would not much like to have to spill blood again. Kept having dreams of the old Dark Elf's face – a frozen mask of terror – and hot blood spluttering my face and hands. Quite ridiculous, really. Nerves acting up. I am sure I will feel much better after I have left these lands behind me.

Second Seed 1st, 3E 423.

We are approaching the Cyrodiil border. I have obtained all the necessary equipment, and as soon as we come across, I will start assembling the Oracle. I must say that I am quite proud of its design.

[Here a drawing of a rather sophisticated contraption is attached to the journal; it features a large crystal ball and a wooden box where Etanni is supposed to be concealed while making her predictions; the latter piece of equipment has an arrow pointing at it, with miniscule writing, saying 'I think it would be better if I kept the girl hidden from the onlookers during our fortune-telling sessions. Let them think that it is the crystal that's talking to them. I would not like Etanni's existence to be known. It might rouse questions – questions I don't feel like answering']

Second Seed 8th, 3E 423.

Yes, yes, yes! Lord Clavicus Vile be praised! After days of hard work, I have finally assembled the Oracle! Now to coax the wench to get inside the box, and we can start with our performances!

Second Seed 9th, 3E 423.

The first séance was a complete success! Oh, by Vile, I can still see the astonished faces of the farmers, gaping at me, as a mysterious voice out of nowhere answers all their questions! It turns out that all my worries were quite needless. And to think that when I was preparing to cast a Shock spell on the child, my hands were actually trembling! It must have been nothing more than an annoying case of stage fright.

[The entries for the following several years consist of nothing but carefully compiled lists of clients who wanted to have their fortune told and the sums of money they paid. However, there are several notes on the margins of the manuscript that might be of some interest; most of them are undated and bear the title "Note to self"]

…Quite a decent price for a luxurious manor in the Heartlands. I think it will not take long to save up enough money to buy it…

…I have observed that the more pain Etanni experiences, the more accurate her predictions are…

…Since my Shock spells are now much more powerful, and Etanni's predictions are thus more complex, I should raise the fee for the séances…

…I have just looked through my earlier notes and had to laugh at the incredibly naïve passage where I had plans for "introducing Etanni to refined Imperial culture". Culture my foot! She does not need culture! She spends most of the time asleep or in a trance or in a state of happy delirium under the influence of my Illusion spells. Come to think of it, I might consider not wasting money on feeding her either. She needs just enough to keep her heart beating...

…Lord Vile had once again answered my prayers! I have acquired the manor that I had taken a fancy to! Must remember to make an offering at His shrine…

…Strange. My magical persuasion no longer has the same excellent effect on the girl. She keeps having these lapses of sound reasoning. I must keep an eye on her. She might very well start devising escape plans again…

…Need to perfect my Destruction skills further. Etanni has started acting up lately. Calls me a torturer! So I now shall need Shock spells not only for prompting her abilities, but also as a way of punishment…

…The wench is surely mocking me! Last night, when that stranger asked for a prediction, she just repeated the words of What's-his-name, "Without the Hero there is no Event". I need to think of a better way to punish her. True, Shock magic has been effective so far, but the pain from it does not last that long. How about… Fire? ...

…I have been a fool to stick to Shock for all these years! Fire is so much, much better! By the way, I must pay a visit to that Relmina woman some time. She seems to be quite an expert; I suspect that a conversation with her will prove to be most enlightening…

…Relmina has disappeared. They say that she has been summoned by Sheogorath Himself. Too bad, I had so many questions to ask her… Well, she can't have been the only one whom I could consult! ...

…I am more than worried. That Arcane University mage was being most troublesome. I was afraid that he would cast Detect Life and reveal Etanni's presence. He is clearly suspecting something. I must not let him get to the bottom of my enterprise; but I wonder how? ...

…This is getting worse and worse. The inquisitive mage is haunting me. He must not learn my secret! But, I cannot obviously take care of him myself; I am too scared – scared that I might leave some clues behind... I wonder…

…Must perform the Black Sacrament tonight! I cannot afford to delay this any further! ...

…Finally, I can rest at ease. The troublesome mage has been dealt with. What is it Lachance said? 'I have a feeling you will require more services from us in the future'… Well, why not? I have so many enemies…

[Starting with this note, another list appears in the journal next to the list of the customers: a long row of names with the words "He/She must not know!" written next to each one, and columns of numbers – the amount of money paid to the Dark Brotherhood]

Last Seed 1st, 3E 433.

This is the first time in years that I am making such a detailed entry. I never thought I would get back to writing long-winded accounts of my life, like I did in my old treasure-hunting days. But I am overcome by an irresistible urge to convey my feelings on paper; I feel that otherwise I might very well lose my mind.
I am afraid. Afraid of everything. Every shadow creeping across the room makes me leap up with terror; every noise makes my skin crawl; every word spoken in my presence makes me frantically search for some subtle, malevolent meaning. I tremble at the thought that my money might get stolen; that the secret of gaining it might become known; that the assassins who have fulfilled so many contracts for me will suddenly turn against me; that Etanni might do… something… That last thing is my greatest fear. She is a young woman now, perhaps a little older than twenty – I never bothered to learn her age – and with every passing day she is growing more and more difficult to control. Living – no, attempting to live – in constant fear has made me weak; and the weaker I am, the stronger she gets; and in her deep, red eyes I can often see a coal-like glimmer of intense hatred, of the very kind that used to terrify me so much when her grandfather looked at me. Not so long ago she had a violent hysterical fit; thrashing against the walls of the garret where I keep her, she tore at her clothes, revealing the many scars she has from our fortune-telling sessions, and at her hair – which, despite her age, is already completely grey – and spat out terrible curses. She called me a "murdering n'wah" and kept shrieking that I had "drunk her dry". It is more than obvious that the young savage is plotting a way to kill me. Something has to be done about…

[This is where Marcus Crumina's manuscript ends; the bottom of this page is completely soaked with blood, and on the top of the next one there is one last entry, scratched with a pointed object dipped in blood]

YOU DRANK ME DRY. YOU TOOK AWAY MY YOUTH. FOR TEN YEARS, YOU TORTURED ME, IN ORDER TO FILL YOUR POCKETS WITH MORE GOLD. AS YOU WERE BUSY SCRIBBLING IN YOUR JOURNAL, I CREPT UP BEHIND YOU, WITHOUT MAKING A NOISE. JUST AS YOU FEARED I MIGHT DO SOME DAY. IN MY HAND, I HELD A SMALL RUSTY NAIL. I REACHED OVER, AND BEFORE YOU COULD AS MUCH AS SQUEAK, I STUCK THE NAIL DEEP INTO YOUR THROAT, AND HELD OUT MY HANDS, AS HOT BLOOD CAME GUSHING OUT FROM THE WOUND, LIKE FRESH SUMMER RAIN. THAT IS THE WAY MY GRANDFATHER DIED. DO YOU REMEMBER? YOU WASHED YOUR HANDS IN HIS BLOOD, AND LAUGHED, LAUGHED TILL YOU WERE SICK. WELL, NOW I DID JUST THE SAME THING. WASHED MY HANDS AND LAUGHED. I AM AFRAID YOU MADE A BAD BARGAIN, OUTLANDER

[At this point the entry ends, because Etanni was interrupted by an Imperial Legion soldier, who was passing by Crumina's manor while on patrol, and thinking that he had heard a suspicious noise, burst inside, to find a Dark Elf girl, leaning over the body of a dead Imperial, busily writing something with his blood in an open book. Etanni came quietly, without saying anything in her defense, and very soon the Imperial prison received one new inmate…]