Vestige of Void – LV2Posted: September 1, 2015
LEVEL 2: The Boat’s Song.
You feel the draw of the knife across the surface of your skin- going from your right shoulder towards your heart- skipping a faint breath as if a reprieve just before drawing a sharp cut through the flesh.
The blond hair of your sibling seems to flow in a wind you cannot feel. Her eyes shimmer behind her glasses- no, wait. Where are her glasses? Why are they missing?- with a dedication that you do not understand.
“O..Onee…” You try to ask her why. Why is she doing this.
She seems to get the point regardless- “You really don’t know what you hold inside you, do you, Louise?” She presses the tip of the dagger into that deep cut over her heart, forcing blood to rise up. “Though my love may be a monster… he is one with heart. He and I made a deal. In exchange for your soul, he will cure our sister forever.”
Cattleya? Your eyes widen. She would sacrifice you for Cattleya??
“JUST KIDDING!!!” And then your sister’s face turns into that of a demon’s, and she turns the knive around before plunging it at an angle to the cut over your heart.
Your name is Louise, and you awaken in the middle of the night from your nightmare, with a scream you’ve only just started to figure out how to curtail in the presence of others.
You know it to be a true nightmare this time as… As your sister never said any of that other stuff the first time. What you thought was a dream the first time… no, that was reality. She never said anything about Cattleya. Nothing about a deal. She just took the knife and stabbed it deep with a ritualistic precision.
The first night in Tamriel, you had slept peacefully; mainly due to the sheer amount of ‘what the hell is going on’ going through your head and forcing the nightmares away. Stuck on a boat for three days, however…? The nightmares returned in full force. You had started to recognize them now. Each time, you’d ask Eleanore “Why?” and she would give a different answer. This was just the most heart wrenching of them all for its plausibility.
If that had truly been Eleanore’s motivation, she should have said so to begin with…. A Zero like yourself would have gladly given your soul in exchange for curing your other sister’s incurable illness.
In the hold of the Spearhead, you, and most others, share a living space. It’s divided normally between men and women- and there’s a full body mirror on the women’s side. You get up from bed and, removing your shirt as you walk, head to the mirror to look at the lines engraved across your chest. It’s always the same in your dream, as it was in reality. The blade drawing across your chest from the right shoulder- skipping a few inches before resuming over the heart on that same angle. And there, at a cross angle, is the killing blow. The skin you see is already scarred, and healed over. How long were you in that prison for before you ‘woke up’?
Hesitantly, you reach for the longest of the cuts, and touch it. No sensation at all comes from the wound- as wounds should do when healed.
The X over your heart, however, hurts in a different way. It hurts not with that physical touch, but in the sheer memory of that first shallow cut, followed immediately by a sharp stab. It’s a sensation that haunts even after waking up.
Shallowly, there’s a part of your old pride that laments that you’ll never get married now. What kind of a man would want a girl whose skin had been marred in such an obvious way? Certainly not Wardes.
…Wardes. Viscount Jean-Jacques Francis de Wardes. Your… Actually. You’re beginning to come to the realization that both of you might be better off with you gone. Although, despite that you do wonder what he’s doing now that you’re…. well, if Eleanore is able to travel between your world and That Place, she very well might have proclaimed that your failed summoning killed you outright. It actually did, come to think of it.
You’ve just… come back from the dead like some kind of–
You change into the mages robe someone had loaned you, and head out onto the deck to attempt to get some willpower exercises in. Mainly, you just fire off the same ice blasts off of the deck out into the ocean until you feel exhausted, and then wait for your energies to recover.
You keep this up until the sun begins to rise. It’s then that Karlieah comes out onto deck to work on her own early morning practices.
Silently, you regard each other with a nod, and then return to practice.
One thing that you’ve had to give up rather quickly in this new world is any preconcieved notions you had towards the evilness of Elves. Back during the escape from Coldharbour? You understood on some level that everyone was just like you, elves alike. You also instinctually recognized that… the Elves you now share a world with are nothing like the Elves from your previous world. You wonder how the Elves of your world would deal to having their souls stolen by a Demon Prince from Another World?
As you contemplate this, you let out a mild hum and take aim at a particularly noisy sea-bird that had landed on one of the ship’s masts a moment ago.
“Wot?” Karlieah turns to look at your break of silence, just in time to watch you expertly fling a chunk of ice at the bird- freezing it solid and knocking it to the deck of the ship. “Wheeew. Nice catch there, Cheffy!” Ah- the first nickname you’ve gained that you actually sort of like? It’s better than “Zero” at any rate. Your provisioning skills may still be novice level, but apparently you’re cooking better than the last chef the ship had. (Nobody mentions what happened to him, and you don’t ask.)
“Thanks.” You give the Bosmer Nightblade a nod, and then go to pick up the frozen avian corpse to prepare it for breakfast. (Might as well make use of the thing, after all.)
As you walk towards the kitchen, you look over your shoulder and watch as Karlieah leaps into a cloud of darkness, and then reappears and disappears several more times- climbing up the masts of the ship until she’s reached the Crow’s nest.
Nightblades- as you’ve quickly come to learn- are typically rougues of an Assassin’s nature. And although Karlieah insists she’s more of a thief than an Assassin, there is no doubt in your mind that the quick application of such a teleport spell was not designed first and foremost for ambushing an opponent.
It was even there in the spell name- “Veiled Ambush.”
And while the idea of being a teleporting assassin once appealed to some childish part of your stolen soul, you can’t go back now. Your first attempts at magic in this world have either locked your magickal affinities into a certain path, or unlocked your former elemental affinity that once was hidden away and is now free to manifest as what it was always meant to be.
You are a Sorcerer, one who throws lightning and, add insult to injury, can summon daedric familiars at will.
You doubt you will ever be using that spell at all- not after your last horrific summoning.
Although, you muse as you throw the frozen bird into a pot of water to thaw it out, it would make sense if that was why your first summoning ritual had opened a portal to your doom in the first place– your destined familiar had been in that realm? Wouldn’t Kirchie get a laugh out of that.
You, a Zero, summoning a Demon.
You angrily throw a lid onto the pot and set a fire to boil the water.
You don’t want to even think about what could possibly have happened back home if you’d somehow managed to avoid being pulled through to another world.
Betnik was a contested island, at one point being fought over by Bretons and Orcs alike. Presently, Orcs ruled it, and they were hesitant about joining the Daggerfall Covenant, which was ruled by the three kings of its constituent races: Orcs, Bretons, and Redguards. The Covenant, as you would learn during your three days at sea, was one of three global Alliances that fought for the control over the remains of the Empire.
The Ebonhart Pact, home to Nords (Which apparently you looked like), Dunmer (the Dark Elves) and Argonians. The Dunmer apparently were once known as Chimer, and three of their kind had ascended to become the God-like Tribunal that now ruled them. Anyone who could figure that sort of trick out earned a sour mark in your book, but as the Dunmer looked nothing like the Elves from your world, you weren’t really going to hold it against them, especially as it had apparently been done to end a war.
The Aldmeri Dominion, meanwhile, was home to Khajiit, Bosmer (Wood Elves), and Altmer (High Elves). While your distrust of Elves had, for the most part, disapated, there was still just enough of a similarity between them to make you weary of the Altmer. According to Neramo, when last he’d been to a town called Skywatch, there had been a group of extremists who did not like the idea of the Dominion even existing, and wanted to isolate the entirity of the Summerset Isles. If a majority of Altmer were for the Dominion, Louise supposed that the Extremists were probably the ones closest to the Elves from her world, and thus, the ones most deserving of that particular brand of hatred.
Learning all of this, of course, had put a sour taste in your mouth. Back home, the country Albion had faced a civil war, and been taken over by an extremist group called Reconquista. Before you had performed the Familiar summoning ritual, rumors had been spreading that Queen Henrietta would have to marry the King of Germania to gain protection from Albion should Reconquista decide to attack the mainland.
“Yeah, I know that look,” Neramo had shook his head upon seeing it. “There are damned idiots everywhere you look, sometimes. I may not believe Ayrenn has the right mindset to rule the Empire, but damn if forming an alliance isn’t a good idea period. Anyone who rejects that concept has to be braindead and a walking zombie.”
Ah, yes, and that brings you to the final tidbit you learned during your voyage. Necromancy was very much a thing in Tamriel- the continent- and Nirn- the world. It was something of a trade mark of the “Worm Cult”- a name that had made Karlieah’s eyes grow distant before she shook it off- and the spells needed to use it were only- at present- learnable if you were a part of that cult.
Unfortunately, it would turn out, part of that cult was here on Betnik, stirring up trouble, seeking some kind of ancient weapon made by…. You aren’t even sure how to pronounce the name properly, seeing as you’ve only heard it pronounced by Karlieah.
“Ahyleyids,” She’d say with a shake of her head. “They call ’em ‘wild elves’ but I tell ya wot, they should be called ‘insane elves’ for all tha’ crazy stuff they’ve pulled in history.”
“Like what?” You asked.
“Well, for starterz,” Karlieah would say, “tha’ very weapon here on Betnik. I don’t even know where ta begin wit’ somethin’ like that.”
A weapon like that, although Karlieah refused to say what it did, had to be banished to the void for the rest of time. A decision that had made the crew very divided on matters. Lambur supported destroying the weapon entirely, while Kaleen wanted to use it to protect the Covenant from enemies. Verbal sparring had nearly broken into a physical fight if Karlieah hadn’t knocked the thing out of their dimension in the attempt to destroy it.
“I wanted it outa my sight, so I forced it ba’k through the hole in space it came from,” Karlieah said. “Not sure it was tha right thing or not, but I did it.”
“I’m not sure if banishing it was the right choice or not,” You say that because nobody will tell you what the Void-damned thing even did, “but sometimes, you have to make difficult choices and other people won’t be happy about it.”
Decisions like kicking a Zero out of school for failing to summon a Familiar. That had been the consequence looming over your head if you’d failed the summoning ritual… and hey, what happened? You were expelled in the most painful of ways.
In the end, the Spearhead headed to Daggerfall, in the country of Glenumbra, a single day’s journey as opposed to the previous three- the trip was disastrously tormenting, with that former male/female division of the ship’s quarters practically rearranged to fit the two different sides of the debate of if Karlieah did the right thing in getting rid of the weapon.
Somehow, you came to naturally reside in the side that believed in getting rid of it, which included Jakarn of all people.
“Oh, it was definitely the right move,” He nodded. “Nobody with their head screwed on straight would want a weapon with that much power to even possibly fall into the wrong hands.” he added, “Sure, what if it DOES get put into the right hands and is used for good, but what’s to stop someone like the Worm Cult from stealing it from us and using it against us? No way we could take that risk.”
The Spearhead arrived just shy of sunrise the following day, with Captain Kaleen half-heartedly declaring, “Welcome to Glenumbra, folks.”
Once you docked, you packed up what little belongings you had, and left the Spearhead’s deck, barely hearing the Captain tell the ‘traitors’ to “Get off my ship.”
“Hey, follow me, ya?” Karlieah motioned for you to follow her up the docks into the town of Daggerfall. “So, since tha last job didn’t go so well, and Khalean took my cut of tha previous job back- Earned It, Ah suppose- you might be wonderin’ how I’m gonna pay you for that Daedra Armor.”
“A little, yes,” you reply.
“Then look no further than somefin I bartered with Jakarn for,” And then Karlieah shows you a large ruby gemstone about the size of a person’s head. “This was tha’ thing I had to help him steal back from goblins in order to get him to work with us on the Bhosek job.”
“It’s very pretty,” you say sincerely.
“Well, unfortunately, Daggerfall doesn’t officially have a jeweler that deals with gemstones this large,” Karlieah smirks faintly. “So I’m going to see someone who does. I’ve dealt wit’em befor’. Done a few odd jobs h’re and th’re. Well payin’ jobs, at that, if you’re short on cash. I’d recommend it, dependin’ on how much this stone’s actually worth.”
“A job like that…” You pause as you are lead into the city, and up several sets of winding stairs, and many guards. “It’s not…” You eye a guard who seems too busy inspecting a large food crate. “Illegal, is it?”
“Haha- that depends on the job at any given time,” Karlieah smiles. “Now, keep in mind, I’m showin’ you this place outa tha kindness o’my heart. If I find out you ratted on the guards…” She then grows serious. “Arrow. Head. Back side. Need I repeat myself?”
You nod enthusiastically in agreement.
“Good, then,” And then Karlieah stops in front of a large grate painted with a peculiar symbol. “Welcome to th’ Daggerfall Underground, Cheffy.”