I like the ocean.
That’s probably a safe enough thing to say. Vague enough to not raise too many questions and specific enough to make me at least somewhat approachable. And it’s something many people can agree with, unless their loved ones have been taken by the sea. It makes me enough of a real person, who might have a real life somewhere, that most don’t take too much notice.
And yes, while it’s a tactical thing to say, it’s also true enough. Oceans are borders, obstacles. They’re nice to have between me and my ancestral home, since my plan to stay as far away from it as I can keep being thwarted by Valenwood being an annoyingly central location in Tamriel and my work and current mess of a life taking me all over the place. I can also admit that the sound of the waves is soothing and makes me remember how insignificant most of the petty things people concern themselves with are. And despite giving me the comfort of separating me from things I don’t want to be near, the ocean also provides nice routes to various places if one has enough knowledge of the… shipping trade, as well as light feet.
If nothing else, I can brag that my feet are at least light enough to get me out of most of the trouble I find myself in. Even if it means I have to keep them constantly moving. Not that I mind. I don’t like staying still anyway.
Some call me a drifter, and that’s fair enough, I suppose. Though usually I’m purposefully moving somewhere or away from something, so I’m not sure if that qualifies as genuine drifting. Some frown upon me for being a Bosmer and start thinking of the classic cannibalism-rumours, even though I couldn’t care less about the Green Pact or the other Wood Elves. But I suppose they wouldn’t know that, whoever they are. They’re not supposed to know. Those few who know more assume I’m so reluctant to be associated with my kind because I got in trouble back home. That’s not completely true, considering I wanted to leave even before I got in trouble (thank you very much, mother). As a young Mer, I imagined storming off, turning back right at the border of Valenwood with a fistful of freshly picked berries in one hand and a rude gesture in the other (beyond the border, of course; I may not care much about gods, but I’m not stupid enough to step too hard on Y’ffre’s toes). Instead I left with blood on my hands and trauma on my shoulders. But no one needs to know that.
Some think that I’m just some homeless, lost soul – which might hit a bit too close to home. And since I’m not miserable-looking enough to be a beggar, they assume I’m a desperate pickpocket, which is a bit insulting, considering I’m a professional pickpocket. Well, burglary is more my style, but I’m not averse to going for the pockets either if the job calls for it. It’s one of the few constants in my life: outwitting people, sticking to the shadows, the usual thiefy lifestyle. I’ve been mostly alone, not important to anyone, just the way I’d got comfortable with.
I think I used to like that. But now… gods and Daedra know I’m in deep enough trouble to actually need more than just light feet to survive.
People. I need people right now. I need more than just contacts or professional acquaintances. For survival, for… maybe even for some kind of healing of spirit, if one wants to go for that kind of nonsense.
It’s funny… for decades, I was sure that I was fine with an uncaring world. That no one needed to know me. That I didn’t need to make too much of an impact. Yet here I am, doing impossible things and thinking to myself how I would tell my story if anyone ever cared.
Maybe even more surprising was that eventually, I came across several who do care.