A Psijic’s Measure: Stolen

Spoiler Alert: Vague references to the main storyline and especially Thieves’ Guild quests.

Author: RipuAncestor

Noevak

In my experience, anything can be stolen. Possessions, ideas, lives, anything. One just needs to have enough skills, ingenuity, patience, and dedication – though sometimes power and luck were enough. Of course, it was a specific type of each. It required skills like walking very quietly, planning every little detail and still having enough room in one’s head to think up a new plan if everything goes to Oblivion. Maybe that last part was also the ingenuity. The patience needed was the kind of patience that enabled one to wait for hours, sometimes during several days, to find the perfect moment to strike. Or in some less glamorous cases, the kind of patience that enabled one to lay low long enough for it become embarrassing when things went wrong. Like they had gone in my case, sadly enough. And dedication was the kind of dedication that meant pretending to be very interested in building an embassy just so one could get into another embassy without anyone asking questions… and then actually helping to build that embassy just so no one would ask any follow-up questions.

I… have a rather long list of odd jobs I’ve done over the years.

Most of them involve something disappearing, and me disappearing soon after.

I’m honestly surprised so few have made the connection.

Maybe it’s partly because I can be inconspicuous when I want to. Maybe partly because those who do make the connection suspect anyone who happens to be Bosmer of being a thief, which in some cases actually makes it more difficult for them to point out those who really are living up to that prejudice. And yes, being labelled a thief merely because of race is incredibly insulting, but even insults can be taken advantage of.

I’d been hearing relatively few insults lately, though, if one didn’t count the barbs that Velsa had for everyone around her. Before I found myself somewhere in the forests of whatever-province-I-happened-to-be-in or in the bowels of Daedric realms, I had been laying low in Hew’s Bane, actually spending time with the Thieves’ Guild, the only group I felt even a little bit at ease around. Oh, sure, I had joined many guilds during my life, and most of them still had my name (or a name they connected to my face) in their ledgers. Most were even quite friendly and always had assignments for me whenever I stopped by. The Mages’ Guild, the Fighers’ Guild, even the Psijic Order… they were all ready to offer me a place and work. None of them seemed to notice that things disappeared sometimes during my visits, considering they were all still very friendly with me. But they weren’t… my people, if that kind of term could be thrown around. Not that there really were any my people, really. There was just me and people who might find me a visitor in their lives for a short while. Sometimes they might even invite me in. Some of the members of the Thieves’ Guild were currently the closest thing to actual friends I had, and even that was stretching it a bit.

There was Quen, who climbed better than spiders and had the endearing, hopeful morals of a novice who was maybe a bit too kind to really do crime.

There was Walks-Softly, who was always the best dressed person in any place he walked in, and who I liked to occasionally get drunk with.

There was Velsa, who, despite the aforementioned insults, was there to make sure we didn’t get ourselves killed.

And there was our leader, Zeira, who was a bit too naïve, but learning. And she was fair, which was more than most thieves could boast to be. And not stupid fair either, just… well, sensible, the kind who knew that inspiring actual loyalty through being a decent person was better than trying to run a guild where everyone distrusted each other.

I had known it would be hard to leave them, especially after we’d had some good times together. Breaking into citadels, taking down a whole organised group of militaristic lawmen, even crashing a wedding (we all looked ridiculous running away from guards in velvet and silk, not that it had felt ridiculous at the moment – worry and panic had been the first feelings that had come to mind back then).

It probably tells a lot about me as a person that I think those things are good times, but at least those times are mine, and they’re times when I could actually rely on someone for a moment. For a comfortable few months, I could cling to that. Then it became too much. It always does. Of course, the real reason I had to go was that something important had been taken from me, but I know I would have put some distance between me and the Guild for some time even if that hadn’t happened.

You see, I had a problem with getting comfortable. I wasn’t used to it. My whole childhood had been comprised of being uncomfortable, sad, or wanting to get away. My mother had fanatically seen to that. Well, no, she had fanatically seen to me growing up into a perfectly traditional, respectable Bosmer, even though some of her traditions were so archaic most of the others didn’t bother with them. It involved a lot of hunting and rigorous training in the woods, which was nothing out of the ordinary, and long periods of time locked in small spaces when I disappointed her, which was a bit more on the unconventional side.

I think it all was because of my father. I don’t know who he was; it always varied depending on the mood mother was in. Sometimes she claimed she had had a tryst with Sanguine himself, but I found that very hard to believe. My guess is that my father was just some stray Bosmer, who didn’t want to stay to raise a child, and mother had never accepted it. And yes, that’s all I’m willing to even think about regarding my childhood. Especially now when I felt like nothing I had learned back then – or even after leaving – were of any use. All of a sudden I had entered a world where Daedric Princes played tug-of-war with live bodies and people’s fates, a world where I was suddenly in the wrong/right place in the right/wrong time uncomfortably often. A world where I had been very much robbed. And yeah, that was very definitely an insult. Not just a professional one, but… an all-around one.

I knew that anything could be stolen. And that anything also included souls. But it was altogether different to know it was possible than to endure it yourself. Especially when said theft involved chains and knives and a whole lot of pain.

I’m not going to lie, I haven’t felt this violated in… ever.

I had known this world was a playground to bastard gods and dangerous monsters. One couldn’t live on Nirn and not know that, unless one spent all their time in a cupboard, sticking their fingers in their ears. But for the most part the gods and the Daedra had left me alone, or then I had just managed to slip their notice by not being interesting enough. And by being lucky, because who knows what made those bastards tick? But now, all of a sudden, I had seen more Daedric Princes in a few months than I would have cared to see in my entire life.

I hadn’t liked gods much before now. But now I was really starting to hate every being who had enough power to completely mess up mortals’ lives.

And you know what? I think even those gods should be sometimes reminded that anything can be stolen.

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A Psijic’s Measure: The Power of Love

Author: Michael/@Shishwik

Aliasandrya

Power.

So much power.

The kind to kill gods. As I have recently done to Molag Bal, at least temporarily.

I can always feel it seething and writhing beneath the surface of my consciousness. Feel it burning its way through my blood stream. Feel it cloud my vision and darken my way of thinking until I want to melt the entire world. This power is consuming me, and I don’t mind.

I may have to turn this power against myself to avert the consequences of its growth unchecked and unbalanced.

Hmm, perhaps that is the better outcome, use all I have in one great rush of cataclysmic energy and remove a possible threat to the innocent.

You see, I am still searching for my sisters. I know I WILL find them. I do not know WHEN. I feel that if we do not come together soon, I will lose myself in what I am afraid of becoming. A monster myself. Uncaring. Pitiless. Addicted to the screams and blood. What in the name of the Tribunal is happening to me? I am so alone…

I have spoken to Almalexia, Vivec, and Sotha Sil. I have helped each of them with something they could not do themselves. I have had adulation heaped upon me until I was drunk with the respect… and fear. Yet the Three did not warn me, did not offer advice, did not so much as hint that there was something wrong with my psyche. They did, however, offer empty platitudes and a rather subdued thank you, along with the mention that I have helped save Nirn from some unknown yet terrible threat.

Gods are worse than children sometimes. I hope I will not have to deal with another.

As I battle my way across Tamriel, I have noticed something unsettling. In the more intellectually gifted beings I must battle, I recognize in their eyes exactly what I feel more and more often: an insatiable desire to destroy. Take this giant I am looking at through the gaps in the trees for example. Casually walking around a village it helped destroy, eating cows, smashing barns, stomping like they are kings without a worry or responsibility for their actions.

Oh hell, my blood is starting to boil, the sickeningly sweet power is stirring, I rush forward…

I don’t know how long I was dazed. It cannot have been too long because the brute is standing over me slowly raising its massive foot to turn me into jelly, the whole time sneering down with rage and glee from 20 feet above me. I contemplate not moving.

“Roll!!!!”

I dart my gaze at this unexpected command and see this little woman rushing toward us, some kind of metal skull cap on her head and glowing runes on her face. My eyes shift back to the now descending foot. I roll. The impact is deafening at such close range. My eyes are filled with dirt and grass and snow. I can’t breathe through the mud clogging my mouth. I just start running in random directions, doing all I can to clear my face of the detritus. After what seems an hour, I can see and breathe again. I am now quite far from the little woman and extremely angry behemoth. I will say this, that little lady has spunk! Just look at her dodge and weave, throwing everything she has at him. The giant is loosing his mind! He stops.

Wait… Why is he stopping? He is facing the woman who is standing before a half destroyed and open barn. She is facing the giant squarely, breathing like bellows.

I am running up behind the giant when I notice a giantess emerging from the barn behind the woman. I scream, pouring every ounce of rage, pain, loneliness, and loss into the sound tearing my throat. As the male turns, he is felled with fire and lightning. As he falls sizzling to the ground, the woman is sailing through the air from a hit from the giantess. She lands limply. I immediately change direction to offer what paltry aid I may. The female giant is prodding the smoking husk left by my power. I smile.

I don’t have time to check for signs of life in the woman; I just apply what little restorative magic I have into my would-be battle companion. Blood covers her face, and her arm is bent unnaturally. As soon as the spell is over, I gather my remaining strength and turn to face not one, but two of these powerful beings. I may get my wish after all. I feel life and energy coursing through my veins. Powerful healing has been given to me. I start to turn my head…

“TO THE LEFT!!”

I run left. Laying down a carpet of lightning, I summon my familiar, Mouthie. He immediately charges the giantess. I cast another spell to bolster his damage and turn to the newcomer. The woman and I make short work of him together. She is pumping me full of healing magic as I electrocute and burn the giant down. My familiar has unsuprisingly driven the female giant away. He can be quite thorough in his desire to please. I love that ugly little bastard.

As we approach each other, the woman and I start to slow. We stop some 30 feet apart and seem to each be mesmerized by the other. Her face is covered in blood from a head wound. She is staring with an intensity I have never felt before, given or received. I shake loose of the feeling and start forward again. So does the woman. I retrieve my water skin and a cloth to help clean her up. She closes her eyes as I perform my ministrations. Neither of us saying a word. I finish.

She opens her eyes. Our gazes lock. Time is forgotten. Love is here, right now in this scene of destruction. My doubts are gone. I am no longer alone.

My heart swells, tears streaming down my face. Overcome, I fall to my knees. She moves close, embracing me, and rests her head on mine. I wrap my arms around her legs and utter a single word through my sobbing…

Kitty.

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GloPoWriMo – Song 26

ShareAlike License: This image is licensed under the ​Creative Commons by-sa license. It can be found on the UESP website, ​”Darien Gautier”.

Gold Crush, In Denial

Darien
Darien
Darien
Dare I e’en–

Your eyes. Why do
your eyes have to be
so stupid when you
gaze into my innerspace?

Gautier
Gautier
Gautier
Got ye, eh?

Your arms. Why do
your stupid biceps have
to be wider even
than my waist?

Darien
Darien
Darien
Dare I e’en–

Your mouth. Why do
you keep your stupid
mouth open, so I
see your moist inner lips?

Gautier
Gautier
Gautier
Got ye, eh?

Your shoulders. Why
are your stupid
shoulders strong enough
to carry continents?

Darien
Darien
Darien
Dare I e’en–

Your shield. Why do
you have to hold up
your stupid golden shield,
for me to stand behind?

Gautier
Gautier
Gautier
Got ye, eh?

Your service. Why did
she, the Lady of Infinite
Energies, choose stupid you,
to be the one to serve her?

Darien
Darien
Darien
Dare I e’en?

Eyes, mouth, shield
arms, shoulders, service

Dare I even admit
for a stupid second

that I love stupid you?

Daily Prompt: “write a poem that uses repetition,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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NaPoWriMo 2019

GloPoWriMo – Song 6

Molag Bal and Meridia Vie for My Soul

Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.
Your words, your worms, twist, and I fall sick.
Your song has only just begun, and many verses still lay before you.

You grab my blade. Blood soaks the moss.
I can’t trust your words when you use them to trick.
Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.

The rock beneath the cherry tree has been my pew.
My heart, the clock, all time, may cease to tick.
Your song has only just begun, and many verses still lay before you.

I cannot wake, can’t sleep, but toss
beneath the moss and pray the end comes quick.
Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.

Through shade and shadow, the coward’s rue,
pierces a single sunbeam, a candle’s wick.
Your song has only just begun, and many verses still lay before you.

I bear within the ultimate cost
and pledge my deeds these souls renew.
Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.
Your song has only just begun, and many verses still lay before you.

Daily Prompt: “write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow!” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Poet’s note: I took a few liberties with the villanelle form, since my first and third lines don’t rhyme. These lines were taken directly from Elder Scrolls Online. The first is one of the terrifying declarations Molag Bal delivers (in the awesome voice of Malcom McDowell!) at the end of a dolmen battle. The third line is something that Meridia says near the conclusion of the Main Quest. It could be argued that the conflict between Molag Bal and Meridia (which, in many ways, is a conflict for souls), is the driving force of the Elder Scrolls series. It probably comes as no surprise that Cat Littlebird, and myself, pledge our lives to serve Meridia!

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NaPoWriMo 2019

GloPoWriMo – Song 3

Don’t Ask

Molly Poppet hadn’t much use
for questions
save the essential:

Axe sharp?
Shield strong?
What will she eat
at the fireside tonight?
Venison, or bantam guar?

She uttered declaratives:
Whistle of blade.
Crack of bone.
Moan of pain.

She didn’t pause to wonder
whose father she left
bleeding on the battlefield,
nor if that child, like
her own young self
a handful of years ago,
sat alone
by the fire, asking

When will Pa come home?

Daily Prompt: “write a poem that… resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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NaPoWriMo 2019

A Psijic’s Measure: Cutting the Pattern

Spoiler alert: From here on out, this story contains numerous references to ESO story quests. You’ll learn who’s who, their outcomes, and much about the main story quest, alliance story quests, and province story quests. Be forewarned!

Contributing Author: Michael/@Shishwik

My experience of time isn’t chronological.

I heard the Golden Knight cry “Stand behind my shield” before I met Darien in Camlorn. Valserrin led me through the Dreaming Cave before Varen sent me to Cold Harbour. I performed favors in exchange for an introduction to the proxy queen before I fought beside her cousin, my own Queen Ayrenn.

And I knew Meridia’s golden love before I drew my first breath.

Oriandra warned me this would happen, when she learned the task Loremaster Celarus had set me on.

“He won’t tell you, and neither will Josajeh, but sealing time rifts has consequences. You won’t be the same, my friend. Neither will reality be the same for you. You won’t know what has come before, and what comes after. With each rift you seal, the Now embeds itself in you, and that destroys all sense of the passage of time.”

But I am getting ahead of myself.

After Twig was taken, I wandered the docks of Vulkhel Guard, looking for signals, talking to anyone who might know something. Some said the Argonian trading vessel had set sail for Black Marsh, others for Elsweyr, still others for Hammerfell. But one merchant told me, “She has been all those places, that ship, the Chub Loon. No, she sails now a short ways–to Summerset, to the port of Shimmerene.”

He told me they had few weapons on board, which they’d need to fight off the maormer if they were heading to a more distant port. They lacked the supplies, too, for a lengthier sail. “No, they are skipping across the small sea, to Shimmerene!”

For the next few days, I listened and watched until I uncovered the next ship set for Shimmerene, and then, at dusk, while the sailors turned to their cups, I stole on board and hid inside a crate packed with ginger, saltrice, and rose-of-archon, with just enough space left over for a small wood elf girl like me. And there I stayed through to the next evening, when the movement of the ship settled into the slow rock of a boat at port, and the songs of the sailors faded to a distant chant.

The air in Shimmerene, even down at the docks above the odor of marsh and seaweed, carried the perfume of the pink cherry blossoms of Summerset.

I stepped out into the night, with stars dancing around the twin moons. Even here, even in an island far from our home of Haven, Jone and Jode stood witness to all that happened below.

“Which one am I? The little one?”

“No. You’re the one in front because I am always following you.”

I ran up and down the docks, looking for the Chub Loon, asking every merchant if they had seen the ship–had they seen a girl like me, only younger?

“It left five days ago.”

“No, it was never here.”

“Isn’t that it? No, wait. That’s some other Argonian vessel. Can’t tell them apart, these trade ships, nor the stinking ones aboard them. Cannibals. Reptiles. Cats. Better to have sea elves ravaging our shores than the likes of you!”

I spent my first night in Summerset wrapped in burlap bags in an unused corner of a warehouse near the docks. I had fear aplenty, and I felt the rough edges of being unwanted there on that land the Altmer had claimed, but an ember of hope burned, too. I would ask the dockmaster; I’d look at the logs.

The dockmaster was Bosmer, like me. I didn’t tell him why I needed know if the Chub Loon had come, nor did I ask if he’d seen my sister. But we know: we can feel the family pull, the old connections, when we are with each other.

“Looking for kin, are you?” he said. “Then, quick. Look through these. No one will bother you, while you do, that’ll I’ll ensure.”

I didn’t have to look far in the dock logs, only back two pages. Two days ago, the Chub Loon had unloaded merchandise and taken aboard more, heading south around the island to the Port of Alinor.

I didn’t know if my sister had stayed on the ship or snuck off, with the crates of moon sugar and ancestor silk. But I would look. It was the only thing I could do.

I spent my days running, through Shimmerine, through the countryside, along the roads, the paths, in valleys and mountains.

One day, I came upon a gryphon’s nest, larger than a Bosmer home, made of rough branches–logs, to me–lined with the hide of deer and welwa. I hid behind a spruce bush, to watch. I had never seen a gryphon but in my mind’s eye, listening to the stories my father told me.

I heard something chirp, a chatter and a warble. Beneath the nest, a solitary chick, larger than a senche cub and with four legs, each ending in an eagle’s foot with yellow talons, cocked its head at me, then cried.

“What? All alone?” I asked. “Where is your mother? Your father? They will want to eat me! Where are your clutch-sisters?”

A single arrow lay on the ground beside the chick. I made my way cautiously to the young gryphon. He chuckled and cocked his head again. He let me run my hands over his feathers and fur–no wounds.

Another arrow lay a few meters from the nest. I followed a trail of arrows until I found the adult gryphon, slayed.

We would not leave prey to rot in the sun. We would use every part. We were not Altmer–even those, like me, who had broken with the Green Pact, had ancestral ties that would not allow us to kill for sport.

As I headed into the valley, leaving the scene of slaughter, I heard the chirp and chuckle. The gryphon chick followed. I led him to a stream, where he drank and bathed. He caught a fish with his talons, and we both ate.

Gryphons live for centuries. The chick’s parent would have been hundreds of years old, and the chick would stay a chick for decades. He wouldn’t make it long in these hills and valleys, thick with wolves, welwa, lions, and sport-hunting Altmer. I let him stay with me. I would protect him and feed him, and, in exchange, I would not be alone.

He’s with me still, though he’s larger now–an adolescent gryphon! More fledgling than chick! And we will see which comes first, my time to leave this form to rest or his to fly to mountains to nest.

Deep in the mountains of Summerset, near Eldbur Ruins, with my gryphon hopping behind me, I came upon a tall and quiet Imperial woman with dark hair and grey eyes. She stood in the shadows of a pine, stepping out as I approached.

“You are looking for something, for someone, and your journey has brought you here.”

She led me to her camp in a hollow behind the ruins. She fed me stew and gave me meat for the gryphon chick. We drank sweet water from the creek. She spread blankets beside the fire, and she let me sleep.

When I woke the next morning, she motioned for me to stay. I had already raised myself to one knee, wanting to get an early start.

“Who are you looking for? Where are you going?”

I told her all, about the maormer’s slaughter of our parents, about stowing away to Vulkhel Guard, about Twig’s abduction, and about my journey now to follow her.

As I spoke, she listened with a quality which I had not yet encountered, but which I’ve since come to know as the Psijic’s way, for it has become my own patterned habit of listening. She listened within–within me, within the energy behind my words, within the intention and the feeling, and she reached understanding.

“Your journey has value,” she said. “I want you to understand this, at its core. Will you come with me? I will take you to a place where few are invited, and those few who are all possess what you have.”

“What is that?” I asked confused.

“It can’t be easily put into words,” she said, looking past me. “But, for now, let’s simply call it earnestness.”

I went, because I didn’t know where else to go, because I felt that, following her, I might be led to someplace that could bring answers, or, at the least, could help me to find them myself. I went because mystery touched me, through her eyes, and something–something deep within me–responded to that, realizing that it would be only in following mystery, wherever it might lead, that I would have the chance of finding Twig again.

She led to me to a ruined fortress in a hillside guarded by imps.

“Don’t get within fifteen meters of them,” she cautioned. “Stay down low.” So we crept behind the boulders and gneiss outcroppings, up the crumbling marble steps and down into a cellar of the keep where a golden shimmer hovered in the air.

One’s first time through a portal is disorienting. It wasn’t until I’d traveled through them fifteen times or more that I grew accustomed to the squeeze and following dissolution of form, then the instant rejoining of every cell and molecule into the shape that is me, now on the other side.

Artaeum stretched like a Summerset of Aetherius, shimmering in light, buzzing with the high frequency of energy, life, thought, love, and magic.

“Where are we?”

“This is the Psijic’s island, Artaeum.” She took me to the tower and introduced me to Loremaster Celarus. They walked a few paces and spoke in hushed tones, turning often to look back at me.

His eyes were like hers: quiet, still, shining.

“As long as you’re sojourning through Tamriel,” he said when he approached, “you might as well put your peregrinations to good use. Close the rifts you find.”

“But I’m looking for my sister,” I protested. “That’s my purpose. Will I find her?”

“You will search,” he replied, “and that is what matters. Along the way, you will be part of great things. You will meet great folk. You will be part of the story. And you will help us.”

Some have told me that Loremaster Celarus and the Psijics used me to perform their tasks, but what is our life for, if not to be of use? Who knows what pattern was cut from the broadcloth of my life when our parents were killed, when we stowed away, when Twig was taken, when I began my search? What is our life for, if not to be changed by the pattern cut in the fabric through which our paths are stitched?

And it was their eyes: that stillness, that calm, that light. It was their eyes that convinced me.

So I left the island with a satchel full of seals to place on rifts in time, and my search for my sister became intertwined with the search for breaks in time, and that search became interwoven with the stories of those I met along the way, with Darien, Valserrin, Varen, and Ayrenn. With Razum-dar. With the Mane, the Silvenar, the Green Lady. And with Prev, Talanie, Darkpaw, and Aliasandrya. My search for one sister led me to many kin.

At times when I felt most unsettled, adrift in a story without a beginning, middle, and end, I would confess to Ally, “I don’t know how I fit. I can’t find where the fabric starts and where it ends.”

And she would reply, “‘Tis temporary. We have a goal. Remember it. If you cannot, take my hand and I will anchor you.” She spoke with complete conviction, an absolute certainty paid for by the love and blood of her adoptive parents.

Sometimes I feel, in this great Nirn, that we are all orphans, and that it is only the hand of another, in ours, that keeps us here, with two feet on the ground.

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Author’s note: Elements of this story are collaborations with friends who play ESO. Michael/@Shishwik, whose Aliasandrya (Ally) is a key character, is a co-writer and collaborator, providing Ally’s backstory and main plot, her character and motivations, and writing most (and possibly all) of her lines of dialogue. I’ll do my best in these chapters to note the contributors, writers, and co-writers. Of course, if you play, we’ll love to have you join us! And if you play with us, we’ll love to have you contribute to and become part of this story! 🙂

A Psijic’s Measure: Two Moons over Tamriel

Photo of Moons over Tamriel

When we were children, roaming the beaches of Haven’s shore, my sister and I chased after moon crabs. Other mer call them mud crabs, for they burrow under the mud, when attacked, and pop up unexpectedly behind you to attack back.

But to us, they were round as the twin moons Jone and Jode, and their eggs shone bright in the silver light.

The crabs left twisting trails along the beach, and we invented games following them, watching to see what we might uncover. I found a pearl, once, in a leather pouch washed up in the sand. Twig found a necklace. Our mother praised us. “We will never eat crab legs, my sprigs,” she said, “not after your friends of the beach have brought such treasures!”

Living in Haven, with Khajiit traders and Saxhleel refugees, I didn’t realize what a departure from custom these words represented. My mother’s mother would have feared that Y’ffre would curse us back to Ooze to hear we’d roast fern frond rather than flesh.

We grew up between culture, Twig and I. How is it that the seeds of a person’s life are sown before, even, the events that define that life?

On my last night with Twig, before she was taken, we looked out the window of the stable loft at the sky, lit up with twin moons.

“Look,” I said to Twig. “There we are.”

“We’re the moons?”

I nodded.

“Which one am I? The little one?”

“No,” I replied. “You’re the one in front.”

“How so?”

“Because I am always following you.”

She was gone the next day, when I returned from scavenging.

I cursed the Saxhleel who took her. The Khajiit told me that they took her to be a slave.

“Now they have their freedom,” he said, “they take the babes of others, for slaves of their own.”

The Saxhleel I knew, refugees who’d escaped to Haven, would never do that. But the Khajiit twisted each of my protestations.

“They are free now,” he said, “and justice has demands. Little ones like your sister pay the exchange.”

The Khajiit merchant offered me to stay. I could work in his stall, deliver and trade, help his wife with what she needed doing, caring for cubs and hunting forests.

I left, though I had only just stepped out of childhood. My sister, still a child, was out there, in the galley, perhaps, of a ship sailing to Auridon or Shimmerine, Davon’s Watch or Vivec City. Or maybe she climbed the mast and looked out over the sea, up to the sky, watching the two moons, knowing that I would follow her, wondering when I would come.

Only the moons kept me going, some nights, when the bare land stretched around me, and I walked, alone, down the trails scratched into the red earth.

I gazed at Jode, the big moon at the fore. Sometimes, I saw my sister before me, grown into a hardened look on her soft face.

She stood always before me, an illusion in the moonlight, and after her, I chased.

Photo of Twig Littlebird

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A Psijic’s Measure: Haven

PM01

When desperation gives way to surrender, a door opens for grace.

I have been saved countless times, and on some golden occasions, I have saved others.

I met a woman who had become a blood fiend. She rued the lives she’d drained, in her blind raptures, and so, in a sober moment, she swallowed cold poison and died, before she could harm another.

I came upon a village where all had been turned to stone, save one: the mage. His spell hardened flesh, calcified pulse between the heartbeats. Fear drives one to strange measures. But it was his spell, too, which had first rendered savage the wolves and bears. Grief raises unsuspected monsters.

Some say rescue follows brave acts. But I know, the bravest act is to turn within, to face the knife of grief, to feel the snap of fear. In the alchemy of mind and flesh, transforming panic to breath to calm to peace: that is where true magic resides.

The mage in the stone village lost a son in battle. If he could harness the energy within this earth, surely he could raise his son! But when we turn from pain, monsters escape the cracks.

We had to kill many beasts before we could close the rifts. When all was done, and the villagers’ hearts began to pound again, they shouted for justice.

“Kill the mage!” they yelled.

“I deserve to die,” he said, and through his eyes, his son’s glance shone back. He wept. The sun shot rays of gold.

“No one will die,” I replied. “He turned you to stone to save you from the beasts. The savage ones are gone now. You’re safe, as you are. No one need pay more.”

The mage looked in my eyes. “A psijic’s measure,” he said. “Kindness. Mercy. Courage.”

The hardest courage is that which opens the path for kindness, for that’s the courage of setting down armor and walking through fire, ice, arrows, and spears, right into the battleground of pain and fear: unarmed, protected with only the openness of the heart. Mercy requires the greatest bravery.

But that’s the path that Meridia lays down.

After our parents were killed by maormer, my sister, Twig, and I stowed away on a Khajiit trading ship, leaving Grahtwood for Auridon. Our parents had moved to Haven, emigrating from Elden Root when I was just a baby, years before Twig was born. They abandoned the Green Pact when they became merchants. It was the sweet taste of pumpkin, my mom always said, that drove them to break the vow.

There were times, an orphaned teen beneath Alik’r’s taut skies, when I believed my wanderings to be Y’ffre’s curse, repayment for our parents’ betrayal. But I don’t believe that any longer.

If one lives long enough, one finds curses turn into blessings.

I sit now, an old mystic, in the wild meadow by my cottage outside of Haven’s walls. I hear the gull call. The evening wind carries memories of battle cries and mourners’ sobs, mothers’ songs and reapers’ chants, a Khajiit’s prayer and an Argonian’s meditation. When I am especially still, I catch the scent of cherry blossoms from Artaeum.

We ended up on Vulkhel Guard, my sister and I, after the ship landed to unload. I found an empty barn near the docks, and we slept in the hay. Only two days later, she was gone. I returned from scavenging food, and the barn was empty, and the old Khajiit on the dock told me Argonians carried her off to their ship.

Thus began my peregrine life: What started as a search became a pilgrimage.

What if you woke one morning to find that every choice you had made and would make, all that had happened, and all that would happen, including getting lost and getting found and finding others and losing them, the deaths of those you love and even your own death, what if it all had significance and meaning? What if, after all, everything really was all right?


Author’s notes: I’ve been immersed in Elder Scrolls Online. What began as WTF, what even IS this game, and how come there’s so much killing! has become an enchantment with rich lore, landscapes, stories, and worlds and a delight in the ethical considerations of the game. Right now, this game is filling a niche for me. The in-game quests can happen so quickly, even when I play solo and read everything, so I often don’t have time to process and internalize the story. That’s what A Psijic’s Measure is for: It’s a chance for me to engage fully with the stories, characters, and worlds of Elder Scrolls Online.

As such, it’s fanfic: The world-building, many of the characters, and many of the plots come directly from the game. There will be loads of spoilers in every chapter–gamers beware! If you play the game, I hope you enjoy an internalized, reflective look at a sojourner’s life in Tamriel. If you don’t play, I hope you enjoy this story of a wood elf who wanders far from home.

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