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Ilsabet's Headcanon (Main Quest and DC/AD/EP/Crag/TG/Wrothgar Spoilers)

Ilsabet
Ilsabet
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So I started out writing this as I thought about what I would say if someone asked in response to this post who the man was that my character loved. It turned into kind of a train of thought narration of my character's history with him and the experiences I imagined her having through the end of the main story and the beginning of Cadwell's Silver. It's written from the perspective of my Breton nightblade, Ilsabet Menard, after her first full day of questing in Cadwell's Silver. I don't really get ensconced in immersive roleplay, but I do have an active imagination and don't mind reading into things when it suits me. :)

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Darien Gautier. I had a feeling after reading his journal in Camlorn that there was more to him than the devil-may-care playboy persona he presented to the world. I took him up on his proposal that we get a drink after everything was settled, if only because I found him amusing and intriguing. (I still hold it against him that he never actually followed through with that drink.) His style grew on me during our subsequent adventures, and I learned how to manage him without taking him too seriously. I even succeeded in keeping my composure when he, um, rendezvoused with that lady captain to get her key (although it helped that I knew what to expect before I walked in... thanks, random soldiers' conversation). I took every available opportunity to hit on him, and he called me "my love" after I told him he could do better than Countess Tamrith. Cheeky flirtations aside, though, I came to see him as a dependable ally and someone I could feel secure about having by my side in tough situations. I found myself immediately scanning gatherings of power players to see if he was there, and it served to build up my discipline when I had to leave him behind to do whatever super dangerous commando mission King Emeric wanted to send me on. I realized there might be something more going on in my heart when I was more relieved to see him walk through a portal than I was to know that I had saved Queen Arzhela from being assassinated.

Things got more interesting in Coldharbour. By that point I had pretty much come to terms with the feelings I had developed for him, but of course I wouldn't let that distract me from doing what needed to be done. At first I wondered if he was going to show up after not being present during the conference with the alliance leaders, and I was delighted when I heard that brave Darien was trying to manage things in the Fighters Guild hall in the Hollow City. I was a little dismayed that he didn't greet me like he knew me when I went in to talk to him, but I suppose he was rather preoccupied trying to argue with that High Elf.

Later I felt compelled to go back and talk to him about why I chose to set Angof the Gravesinger free even after everything he did to Glenumbra (which was already a pretty emotionally-charged choice for me), and he trusted my decision despite the lingering bitterness over what had happened in our common homeland. It was a given that I would choose him to accompany me through the Endless Stair, although I did talk to Cadwell and Skordo just to see what they would say (and I would have liked to see what kind of traveling companion Cadwell would have been, but there was no way I could pass up Darien). I was distressed to learn that he and Gabrielle were close and that he would rather stay with her than me when things got dicey, but I pushed on anyway because I had to. I was relieved that he and the others rejoined me so quickly, but it goes without saying that what happened next was one of the defining moments of the assault for me. I'll never forget that last image of him with his back toward me as the light overwhelmed my vision. And I'll never stop wondering if it was my fault that he was left behind when I rushed to activate Meridia's light.

The emotional impact of this experience lingered with me as I heeded the Prophet's call to return to the Harborage and begin the quest to reclaim my soul. For perhaps the first time in this whole mad adventure, I was motivated by loss and anger, though I remained outwardly stoic by necessity. I couldn't even think of breaking down when so much still needed to be done.

The Hall of Torment was a highlight of the journey into Molag Bal's lair. In addition to Mannimarco, I encountered Faolchu the werewolf, Septima Tharn, Aelif, and the Duchess of Anguish, all writhing in agony in the God of Brutality's bonds. Each of them pleaded to be freed, claiming to have repented through their unbearable suffering. But unlike my earlier experiences in Coldharbour, where invariably I gave apparent enemies the benefit of the doubt when they claimed that they could aid me against Molag Bal, and even chose to believe that Angof could be worthy of redemption, I felt no such stirring of forgiveness or trust here. I saw through their protestations and pleas. I don't care how much it burns, Faolchu. You burned Darien's home. No, Aelif, you are not my friend. My friends fought beside me and died in Coldharbour.

Mannimarco, of course, did not beg. He simply sneered and postured and assured me that I would join him soon. I could have let him go. I even mentioned the possibility to him. I'm not sure why; maybe it was out of spite, to dangle something in front of him that he couldn't actually have. But I never would have actually released him, even if he had wanted me to. It was because of him that all of this happened. It was because of him that Darien was gone.

I left them all there and didn't look back. I wouldn't say I was cold; I wouldn't say I was emotional. I was driven. I might have been reeling inside but I was focused outwardly. I wasn't taking any more nonsense from Molag Bal or anybody else.

I had already decided, before the invasion of Coldharbour even began, that Varen would be the one to be sacrificed to the Amulet of Kings. The irony was not lost on me that my reasoning had been influenced by my romantic side, not wanting to see either Sai or Lyris have to go on without the other. Varen of course accepted this decision and did his duty, as any one of them would have done. Under the circumstances it felt almost mechanical watching him give up his life, just something that had to be done so that we could proceed. Upon reflection it's kind of unfortunate that I wasn't sadder about seeing him go.

After I left my companions, it was time to make my way toward Molag Bal. He had taunted me the entire way. I didn't care. I cut down his minions as if they were dust. As I went along I looted everything I could get my hands on. And when I faced the Lord of Schemes himself, I was relentless. I don't know if it was the power of the Amulet of Kings or my own determination, but there was no way Molag Bal was going to best me that day. Cleaving him in twain was the culmination of everything we had all suffered for.

And then it was time to reclaim my soul. It was like a hazy dream, wandering among fruity-colored pebbles, being beckoned by a glowing figure offering me what I had lost. For a second an image of a man flashed before my mind's eye, almost making me forget what I was really there for. And then my soul was mine again. Honestly the import of that moment barely registered with me. It wasn't until later that I actually reflected on the fact that I was whole again. I certainly didn't feel whole after having lost so much.

Meridia was pleasant but made it clear that there was likely more darkness to come. The Daedric Princes still have plans for me, apparently. And there was still the conflict raging between the mortals, which seemed more trivial to me then than it had ever been. The conflict seemed important to Meridia, though, and she mentioned that I would have the chance to expand my horizons and experience the other sides to give me clarity.

And then I was back in the Harborage, and said my goodbyes to Lyris and Sai. It was gratifying to hear that they would both be returning to the Abbey of Blades, and were looking forward to finally getting to spend some quiet time together. It made me smile despite the knowledge that I would never be able to do the same with the one I loved. Watching them leave was bittersweet, and it seemed strange to think that this mission we had all gathered to undertake was over.

Before I could wonder what I myself would do next, Cadwell pulled me aside to bestow upon me Meridia's "gift." What if I had washed up on a different beach? What if I could see through the eyes of my enemies? He asked if I was ready to go. It seemed sudden, but something spurred me to accept. There was no looking back, so I might as well move forward, toward... whatever lay in wait for me.

A moment later I found myself on a ship. I didn't recognize it or anyone aboard. It was disconcerting not knowing where I was or what I was doing there. I started looting everything I saw. Maybe it wasn't exactly an appropriate first reaction, but I think I was operating on instinct at that point. It was something familiar in an unfamiliar environment. Along the way I traded trite pleasantries with the sailors, who didn't seem to mind my grabbiness but also seemed mostly indifferent to my presence.

I made my way topside, still hunting for containers to raid and people to speak to. The captain told me that someone named Razum-dar had found me in the middle of a hurricane. Razum-dar... I knew that name. I knew that person, but from where? He wasn't from the Covenant, and he wasn't at Coldharbour.

It wasn't until I left the ship and found a torn-up travel guide on the docks that I finally knew where I was: Auridon. So I had been sent to Aldmeri Dominion territory. I was suddenly grateful that nobody here knew who I was. I also suddenly remembered where I had encountered this Razum-dar. He was with the Altmer Queen, back when Vanus and I were making the rounds trying to drum up support for the invasion. I think he told me to watch myself because he'd be watching me. I had the feeling he wasn't somebody you'd want to mess with.

I wandered among the docks, making the same polite, meaningless conversation with fishermen and merchants. Beyond the docked ships sprawled a vast sea, which merged into the deep blue of the cloudy twilit sky. It reminded me of the sky in Coldharbour, but it was distinctly different. It was peaceful. Beautiful. I didn't yet feel like this was a place where I belonged, but it at least felt like a respite from everything I had been through.

I found myself drawn to the seawall, where a couple of solitary fisherfolk greeted me with yet more small talk. I stood by myself, just gazing out at the sea and the sky. I had come so far, and the places I had been seemed so far away. Everything I knew seemed so far away. Up until this moment, I had been so focused on what needed to be done. But now...

I became acutely aware of how tired I was. So tired... How long had it been since I had slept? My resolve faded, and my legs gave way beneath me. I collapsed against the railing, and the tears came at last. I wept harder than I can remember ever weeping. The poor befuddled fisherwoman next to me asked if I was okay, and then moved a little further away when I couldn't answer.

It didn't really matter what was "wrong." There was no one reason why I was crying. It was just the release of all of the emotions that I had been bottling up throughout this whole ordeal.

Eventually the tears subsided, and I was left with one thought. It was over. It was all over. We had all suffered and lost so much, but it was over. We had succeeded. We had saved our world, and I had reclaimed what had been stolen from me. I instinctively put my hand over my heart, and for the first time it occurred to me to think about what it felt like to have my soul back within me. It didn't really feel much different, but there was a certain... warmth within me that had been missing.

I began to think more clearly. My first thoughts were of Darien. It went without saying that he would weigh most heavily on my heart. I wondered if I should have told him how I felt while I had the chance. Would it have made a difference? Did he already know? Was it always Gabrielle? Would sharing my feelings have made it any less painful to lose him? I breathed a silent message to him, letting my mind recite the words I would say to him now if I could. No matter what, I knew that I loved him. I was grateful for the time he spent by my side, and I would never ever forget him. And wherever he was, I prayed he would be well.

I felt somewhat chastened remembering the many others I should also be mourning, and I took another silent moment to grieve for the many who gave their lives in Coldharbour. There were so many allies I had gained since I started out. I thought back over the course of my adventures through High Rock and Hammerfell. So many people I had encountered. Their images and names came back to me in a steady parade.

Jakarn. Kaleen and Nicolene and Lambur. Lokra. King Casimir. The Bad Man cultists. Bumnog and the Daggers. Verandis. Gwendis. Countess Tamrith and Baron Dorell. Sir Hughes and the Knights of the Flame. Brother Perry. Gloria Fausta. That drunk orc constable. Skordo. The young man and his fiancee and the orc servant. The Duke of Alcaire and poor Lakana. King Emeric. Mathias Etienne. S'rashi. Captain Marck. Crafty Lerisa. Neramo and Clanker. Count Hosni and his doomed party. King Fahara'jad. Prince Azah. Throne Keeper Farvad. That Khajiit drug dealer who thought I was ogling her tail. The Wyresses. The Viridian Sentinel. Queen Arzhela. The werewolves of Kerbol's Hollow. The drunk Nord who lost his boots. The Argonian who turned into a crocodile. Adusa-daro. Ufa the Red Asp. Lady Laurent and Stibbons. Gabrielle. Darien.

I had met all of these people because I had happened to land within the Covenant after escaping the Wailing Prison. It had seemed natural; after all, I was a Breton myself. But if Meridia and Cadwell were right, and it was all just chance, then if things had happened differently I never would have met all of those memorable people. I never would have met Darien, until the end came in Coldharbour, and in that case it's likely I never would have known him well enough to fall in love with him. Simply contemplating this fact made me even more grateful for the experiences I had had, with all of them.

But now it was as if I were starting over. Whether this was a dream or an alternate reality or I were inhabiting someone else's life, I was getting the chance to start the journey again and see what new memorable people I would meet and what new experiences I would have. It didn't feel like wiping the slate clean; it never even crossed my mind to feel that everything I had done within the Covenant had never happened. I most certainly carried those experiences and memories and feelings within me, the heartache and loss included.

I looked up and the ocean and sky once again met my gaze. It had gotten darker while I was lost in my meditations. The physical and mental and emotional exhaustion still weighed on me, and it occurred to me that I should find a place to sleep for the night. The adventures could start tomorrow.

I wearily rose to my feet, prompting another concerned inquiry from the fisherwoman. I merely asked where I could find a bed for the night, and she directed me to the inn in town. I trudged back through the docks, looking for the path into town, when I noticed someone that the ship captain had told me about: a Khajiit boatswain who could take me back to the island where I could find Razum-dar.

A new thought crossed my mind. I felt moved to seek out this one familiar name. I still needed rest, of course, but surely the boat would have a bunk that I could use while we traveled. The smuggler seemed happy to have me along, but her boat was... not what you would call well-appointed. I made do curled up with a blanket in a corner, and fortunately my body was desperate enough for sleep that the discomfort didn't matter much.

I must have slept soundly. I only remember having one dream. For the first time in a long time, I dreamed of my home, and of everything that had been familiar to me before my fate whisked me away. As I approached my town, I saw the streets lined with my old friends and family. A light shining around them obscured their faces, but I understood that they were the people I had known and loved. I moved past them, and then realized that I was gliding forward through the volition of some unseen force. I drifted past my old friends, past my town, past the familiar forests of my home, and I kept moving forward. I sensed that I was approaching others, and I became aware of the presence of those I had come to know after being reborn as the Vestige. I searched their unseen faces, looking for the one person I wanted to see more than anyone else. But the light was growing and growing until even the shapes of bodies were being obscured. A lone silhouette appeared far in the distance, but before I could reach out to him everything turned blinding white.

As I grudgingly opened my eyes, they were assaulted by the unforgiving rays of the morning sun. Sugar-Claws informed me that we were nearly to the shore and it was time to look alive. The beach was strewn with wrecked wood and wracked bodies, the aftermath of the storm that had (ostensibly) brought me to Khenarthi's Roost. A vaguely familiar voice called out to me, and I found myself once more standing before Razum-dar.

He didn't recognize me, of course, but seeing him again brought back the flicker of memory of standing in Queen Ayrenn's court. He impressed me again with his savviness, first convincing me to tell him how I had really come to fall from the sky, and then implicitly encouraging me to lie to anyone else who might ask. He advised me to stick with him, and I immediately felt that this would be a good idea. As we spoke to other people, I began to get a feel for my new surroundings and had to keep reminding myself that I was no longer Ilsabet Menard, Hero of the Covenant, but Ilsabet Menard the insignificant castaway within the Dominion. Razum-dar left me with a number of tasks to see after, and soon I found myself in the familiar place of running errands and speaking to locals and gathering whatever goodies I came across.

I received a shock when Gathwen came running up to me, not to deliver an update on the battlefront but to request help for her master. I'm not sure if she noticed the look of surprise and recognition on my face, but I had to once again remind myself of the words of warning that even my former allies would be seeing me for the first time. When the time came to choose whether she or her master would be entombed to stop the bad guy, I must confess that I was influenced by the knowledge that Gathwen would have to appear in Coldharbour, which in this timeline had not transpired yet.

After a full day of running around meeting and aiding new (and like-new) people, I realized that I was actually enjoying being just a nameless adventurer again. I had gotten so used to being the Hero of the Covenant, the one the High King immediately turned to for commando missions, the only one who could stop the Planemeld and defeat Molag Bal. And I had really become that person, who accepted the responsibilities and was determined to see them through. But today I was no one special, as I was reminded by the snappy Altmer commander who had much more important things to do than talk to the likes of me. And it was actually refreshing, like a weight was off of my shoulders. Over the course of the day I outfitted myself in whatever bits of armor I scrounged up, looking more and more like the vagrant I had become.

I know not what lies ahead of me on this blank parchment that I've been given. It will probably feel strange when I have to work against the Covenant and decry my former King. But I can already feel myself acclimating to this new guise I've taken, and I am keeping an open mind receptive to whatever may befall me. I'll look forward to seeing Razum-dar again, and wonder what other former allies I may get to meet in their native lands. And I know I will continue to think of Darien, and it will be a long time before my heart stops aching. But I believe that I am honoring him and all of those whose lives have touched mine, by moving forward as the truly whole person they helped me become.

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On a real-life note, I'm really glad I (mostly inadvertently since I decided to make my archer a Breton) played DC as my main/first character. I know that Darien is meant to be an important player in the endgame regardless of what alliance you're in, but it made it much more meaningful having that shared history from the DC questline. Especially given the opportunity for headcanon (which I will admit was encouraged by the knowledge that Darien played an important part in the endgame and there really was more to him than his snarky disposition and ladykilling).

Kudos to anyone who actually read through all of that. I had a good time writing it, and it was nice to capture the experience I had (both in- and out-of-character) the day I went through the end of the main story and started Cadwell's Silver.

Cheers, Darien.
Edited by Ilsabet on July 6, 2017 8:43PM
Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
Ilsabet's Headcanon
PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Another thread about characters journaling got me thinking about things I've experienced during my travels through Cadwell's Silver, and so the mindjournal continues. :)

    *****

    If I had any expectation that the simplicity of my new life would help distract me from the sorrows of my old life, it didn't take long for that reverie to be broken.

    Right here in Khenarthi's Roost, the spiritual leader of the Bosmer - the Silvenar, he's called - has been killed. He seemed nice, from the little interaction we had, a reasonable sort of fellow. Just the sort that political extremists would want to target, apparently. I arrived just too late to save him, but just in time for his death to be discovered by his wife and partner, known as the Green Lady.

    She was distraught to find her other half murdered, and led both of us down a trail of investigations and confrontations that could have ended in yet more death. When the culprit was identified, the Green Lady wanted nothing more than to exact revenge for her fallen mate. She put the question to me - if the one I loved had been killed, wouldn't I want to take justice into my own hands?

    She couldn't have known how deep a question like that could cut, so soon after I had watched the one I loved perish before my eyes. And what had I done, in the wake of my loss, knowing who was responsible? I had set out with the singular purpose of putting an end to the villain, not caring that he was the Lord of Brutality himself. I couldn't deny that defeating Molag Bal had been about revenge, at least a little bit. Would I have been as determined or as fierce if I weren't driven by my personal feelings? Would my victory have been as meaningful if it hadn't been, at least in part, for Darien?

    But there was more to it than that. I thought back to how I actually felt in those moments as I pushed myself through the heart of Oblivion. I might have wanted to cry, and scream, and fly into a blind fury. But I couldn't. Driven as I was, I was still focused on the most important thing - duty. My responsibility to do what must be done, to carry out the plan, to push everything else aside until the goal was achieved. There was something personal at stake, to be sure, but along with the restoration of my soul, weakening Molag Bal would be a boon for all of Nirn. And I was the only one who could accomplish that task - had to accomplish that task. And so I did.

    I had no right to tell the Green Lady not to grieve as she saw fit. But this wasn't a simple matter of one woman's justice, or one life for another. The Khajiiti mayor had begged me to consider her people, and what would happen if the Maormer representative were killed there while their treaty was still ostensibly in effect. This was the bigger picture, and in this case duty demanded a reprieve for the murderer until he could be interrogated and brought to justice formally. And thus I stayed the Green Lady's hand, while inwardly sharing her pain. She didn't thank me for it, but I have to believe that we did what was right for the good of the people on the island, and knowing that the miscreant will indeed be punished for his crimes made it a less bitter pill to swallow.

    I found out afterward that the Green Lady expects to depart this life soon, following after her Silvenar. I hope that putting this trouble behind her will allow her to mourn as she must before she passes.
    Edited by Ilsabet on April 15, 2016 8:09PM
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Two old men in a field, surrounded by ethereal flowers made of memories. I wonder if I'll ever hear my true love's name carried by the wind...
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    "The skins of those you love will fly as my banners." No, I don't think they will, Molag Bal.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • menedhyn
    menedhyn
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    Beautifully written and wonderfully descriptive. All of it. Thank you for sharing.

    (Hope you don't mind me posting here...)
    Haj-Gee (Templar) :: Keshu-Ta (Templar) :: Tum-Leel (Warden) :: Weaves-Many-Baskets (Warden: crafter)
    PC :: EU | twitter
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Not at all, thanks for the feedback. :)
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Another hard decision today. A man whose wife spurned the Green Pact and turned into a beast to save him from torture and death at the hands of Wood Orcs. Obedience to the Bosmer ways demanded that she be put down, and he enlisted my help to stop her rampage. But when the time came to stop her for good, he couldn't go through with it, and instead turned to the idea of forsaking his identity and turning feral with her.

    It was up to me to either allow him to turn, granting him the chance to stay with his love for as long as they are able to survive, but at the cost of both of their souls and the potential for unknowable harm done to others as they pursue their lust for the hunt; or to force him to take her life and live on lucidly with the memory of having done it. I began trying to convince him that her sacrifice would have been in vain if he turned. But then he said something jarring: "Someday you'll love someone half as much as I love her, and then you'll understand why I can't kill her."

    I was taken aback, and it took me some time to wrap my head around the implications of what he was saying. There was someone I loved, and I had watched him die. I even blamed myself a little for his death. But if someone had asked me to kill him with my own hands, could I do it?

    I saw his face, looking at me with that grin he always gave me when we were about to go do something dangerous. We'd been in plenty of life-or-death situations together, knowing that one or the other of us might not come back. But it was easier to accept that possibility knowing that we were on the same side, fighting together, having each other's backs. If I had to turn my weapon toward him, what would I do?

    I tried to imagine it, tried to picture myself looking into those eyes with my bow drawn and my arrow aimed at his heart. He would trust me, know that if I were doing such a thing it must be for a good reason. The reason... that would be what it all came down to. What kind of reason would be so compelling that I would kill the man I loved? Would I do it if I knew that it was necessary to save the world? What if it had to be him who was given to the Amulet of Kings? In a case like that, how could I put my own feelings before the fate of the world and the weight of my responsibility?

    I had essentially already sacrificed the man I loved for a greater cause. If I were compelled to take his life with my own hands I probably would have felt differently about it, but I have to believe that I would have done what was necessary and dealt with the grief and guilt afterward. But only if the reason were important enough and there were no other alternatives.

    I brought my thoughts back to the case at hand. This wasn't something that concerned the fate of Nirn. But it was one man's whole world at stake. His wife's soul had already been forfeited for his sake. There was nothing left for her but to be put down before she could cause any more damage, or to be set free in a place where she could roam true to her bestial nature. His soul was the one in the balance, and if he gave in to his emotions he would be not only throwing away what she had sacrificed everything to preserve, but also betraying the way of life that his people revered.

    His duty was clear. How many times before now had I put duty before personal emotions? Or urged others to do the same?

    The desperation in his eyes spoke volumes. His duty, his soul, the Green Pact itself, none of that mattered next to his desire to stay with the one he loved in any way possible. He loved her so much that he would give up everything to be with her. Could I say I loved Darien that much, or even half as much? Would I have thrown away everything to save him, to run away with him, to be with him for just one moment more?

    No. But he wouldn't have wanted me to. Even if he had known how I felt, even if he had felt the same, he would have looked me in the eyes and told me to do what I knew was right. And that is what I told the Bosmer, before leaving him to his grief.

    Maybe I didn't love Darien half as much as that man loved his wife. I suppose I'll never know what might have been if our story had been allowed to continue. All I can do is remain true to what I believe is right, what I believe would make Darien proud if he could see me now.

    For tonight, though, I'll have to find a cliff or a clearing where I can get a good view of the stars.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Krist
    Krist
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    I always steer away from the quest lines when doing a journal or writing a story, only brushing the edge of some, but wow, you did such a great job with it. Very very well done! It brought back my own memories of the quests, minus the love for Darien! Your written explanation and character view of Caldwells silver/gold is awesome. Nicely done.
    "Krist the Lionheart? No. Lionheart was my dog" -Krist
    "Darling, if looks were everything, I would be king of the world" -Luke
    "That place, between day and night, that purple color just before dark, that is where you will find me"- Hughe
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Yeah, it's been interesting taking the standard quest objectives and dialogue and bending them to my will based on how my character would think in those situations. Of course I'm really only doing that in cases where I can relate them to Darien or otherwise personal feelings and experiences, so that makes it a little easier. If I tried to write journal entries about every little quest they probably wouldn't be quite as interesting. :D
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I visited Camlorn today, for the first time since I finished my first adventures in Glenumbra. It's been some time since I began allowing myself to stray from my alternate-identity course for brief visits back to Covenant territory, just to put my crafting skills to use and do the odd bit of treasure-hunting (and maybe, on some subconscious level, to remind myself that the world I knew is still there). I couldn't say what drew me into the city; I simply found myself in the area and decided to wander in for nostalgia's sake.

    To be blunt, the place is still a wreck. I don't even know how much time has passed since I freed the town from Faolchu and his minions, but in some ways it seems like the fires were just put out yesterday. The people seem to be trying hard to get back on their feet, but there's a pervasive feeling of forlornness, as if they're still in shock over what happened to their town. I can't say I blame them, although it was dismaying to behold. It is good to see merchants and townsfolk getting back to their business, though, so I remain hopeful that the town will eventually recover.

    I saw Darien's father, who was overseeing the continued reconstruction efforts. We spoke briefly and courteously. Neither of us mentioned Darien. I have to assume that he has been informed about what happened to his son, but I couldn't bring myself to say anything about it, and perhaps he sensed that it was a delicate subject for me too. Or maybe the news somehow hasn't reached him yet, but in that case I sure wouldn't want to be the one to break it to him.

    I should have expected the melancholy to creep in, especially after seeing General Gautier, but I had to actively distract myself as I continued my exploration of the city. The two thieves troves I discovered did help, but it was hard to keep my memories from drifting back to that first day when just getting into the city was a challenge and I had no idea who I'd be finding inside that chapel or how profoundly he would affect my life.

    I'm still not sure if letting myself wander toward those memories was a good idea, but what's done is done. It wasn't really hard to predict what would happen once I was inside that city again, even if it seems like I've distanced myself from my old life. Perhaps it was a timely reminder that the embers in my heart are still there, subtly smoldering, just like the charred wood of Camlorn.

    And with this renewed insight, I continue moving on.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I wonder what it would be like to know who you're supposed to marry, and just go ahead and do it. I suppose arranged marriages are like that, but I've always found that idea unappealing since there's no guarantee that you'll like the person your parents choose for you. Of course I don't think I ever would have been in that kind of situation; if anything, everyone would have expected me to marry one of the ranger's sons since we spent so much time together. (For the record, not that it matters anymore, Ian might have been an option once he grew up a little more, but Jacob was always kind of a brat.)

    I suppose that if your marriage arrangement were made early enough, and you grew up knowing who you were supposed to marry, your relationship would evolve in such a way that it wouldn't be so weird. Of course as I've recently seen, sometimes even that doesn't work out the way people expect.

    So through a series of events that led me through Greenshade and Malabal Tor in Valenwood, my friend Indaenir has become the new Silvenar, and a new Green Lady was chosen to be his partner. They were supposed to be married to establish their union, but things were complicated by the fact that the new Green Lady, Gwaering, had already been betrothed since childhood, and her former fiance wasn't keen on the idea of giving her up. I suppose that's another case of duty and greater good needing to trump personal desires, but I have to say that I might have felt sympathetic toward Ulthorn if he hadn't become so twisted in his drive to get her back. His world was torn apart when Gwaering left him to marry someone else, and I can't say what I would do in that situation. Except that I probably wouldn't allow a Daedric Prince to corrupt me and countless others and tear apart entire swaths of countryside out of bitterness and anger. When someone is chosen by a god to fulfill a higher purpose, it's hard to argue with that.

    We did finally succeed in bringing the bride and groom together, and once the Hound's threat had been eliminated, the wedding proceeded in full ceremonial style. The two of them accepted their union as inevitable given their newly appointed stations, but I was still curious as to how they felt personally. They hadn't even met face to face until just before the wedding. Of course I couldn't ask such a brazen question openly, but I wondered if their transformations into the almost mythical paragons of Bosmer society had simply primed them for their new relationship, or if some part of them still felt a little weird about pledging their love and lives to each other just because that's how it was supposed to be.

    I was happy for both of them, at any rate, and they seemed happy together. Maybe it's a perk of being in their position that they're destined to be happy and in love no matter what. I still don't know how I would feel about being put in that position, though. They say you can't choose who you fall in love with, but most people can at least choose who they want to be with. Of course that's no guarantee that you can actually be with the person you want, or that everything will go wonderfully even if you can.

    ...I didn't expect thinking about this wedding to turn me so philosophical. Maybe it's time to get back out on the road.
    Edited by Ilsabet on June 7, 2016 8:24PM
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can't believe it. I just... Wasn't I just asking what I would do if I had to kill someone I cared about? Why did such an idea even cross my mind? Did fate really think I was tempting it to put me to the test? I mean granted, I wasn't in love with Razum-dar, but... why did I have to make that decision?

    It should have been a routine mission. Colovian invaders squatting inside an old Alyeid ruin, check. Some trinket inside that I had to retrieve, check. Traps and puzzles blocking the way, check. The rash cat and his team forging ahead, probably needing rescue at the end of the tunnel. Nothing I couldn't handle, nothing I haven't done a dozen times over.

    I made it past the Colovians, past the traps, found the trinket enshrined within a barrier. But I also found the cat, stuck on the other side of a gate, telling me that there was no way for him to get out. Telling me that I needed to destroy the trinket, which could be used to enslave Queen Ayrenn and all of merkind. Telling me that when I did destroy it, the Ayleid defense mechanisms would overload and crush anyone still trapped inside.

    But... no, that couldn't mean...

    But it did. Raz insisted that I go through with it, ensuring his death, even though there also existed a way to depower the entire defense system so that he could get out.

    I had to decide between saving all of Elvenkind, the Dominion itself, and saving my friend, the person I admired and respected more than anyone else I had met on this part of my journey.

    The Dominion itself didn't even really faze me. If I had been thinking clearly, it might have occurred to me that the Covenant might benefit from having one of its enemies weakened by Imperial outsiders. But the Elves didn't deserve this, any more than I could allow Bangkorai to be taken by Septima Tharn and her interlopers. This artifact clearly needed not to exist. But... Raz...

    He saw the hesitation in my eyes, and scolded me for even considering shirking my duty just to save him. He was prepared for this, he said, and it would be an honor to die in the service of his Queen. This was something I needed to do, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

    I just stood there, looking at the terrible circlet, looking from the consuming fire to the rune on the wall and back again while Raz waited patiently on the other side of the gate. I spoke to him again, hoping for some glimmer of an alternative, a way out of this impossible situation, a hint that it would be okay if I just went ahead and released him and found another way to deal with the artifact. But the only kindness he offered was the chance to delay the inevitable by reminiscing about our various adventures together, and I wondered if he were doing it more for me or for himself.

    I wished I could have had many more adventures with him, if only to stretch the parade of memories out as long as possible. But too soon the inevitable moment came. I stepped back from the gate, looking into his eyes one last time, and he gave me a smile that told me it would be okay. I held up the circlet, mentally cursing its very existence, and approached the bowl of fire waiting to claim its prize. I glanced up at the rune on the wall, still beckoning, but the flames drew my gaze again.

    I had to do this. I didn't have a choice. Something told me Raz would never speak to me again if I didn't do the right thing at this critical moment.

    Tears blurred my vision and my hands began shaking. All I needed to do was release my grip and the awful decision would be made. Just let it fall and the gut-wrenching uncertainty would be over.

    Just...

    I let go. This was how it had to be. As soon as the circlet left my grasp the uncertainty was replaced by a sharp pang of regret. But it was too late. The decision had been made. Raz's fate had been sealed.

    But something... something told me that it wasn't the end. It couldn't be the end. Not for someone like him.

    "Thank you, my friend. I'll see you on the other side."

    The fire consumed the accursed artifact, and the very structure around us lurched to life as the Ayleid defense mechanisms were activated. I tried to look back, through the gate, but the falling dirt and rubble obscured my view.

    Run, Raz. You have to get out. There has to be a way for you to get out.

    I was nearly hit on the head by a chunk of stone and I realized that I should follow my own advice. The traps along the way had been silenced, but I could barely see past the dirt and tears in my eyes. Somehow I made it to the exit and stumbled out into the fading light. Once my vision cleared enough to move, I canvassed the area, hoping to see a familiar cat appearing at any moment, laughing at me for being so anxious about him.

    But fate was not about to ease my fears so readily. The more I looked, the more apparent it became that he was not going to appear.

    By the time I gave up my search, I felt numb. I had to report the news to the Centurion, and I could hardly believe the words as they came out of my own mouth. I knew that Cariel was waiting for me in Arenthia, but... I couldn't. So I went fishing in the river, letting the rain pour down on me. I think maybe I'll head south, see what was going on in that town with the surly villagers or that mine I passed by earlier. Hopefully Cariel won't mind waiting just a little longer.

    I just need... some time. Just in case that helps relieve this horrible knot in the pit of my stomach. Just in case it's possible to understand... why.

    Why did I have to do this?

    Tt9v8we.jpg
    Edited by Ilsabet on July 6, 2017 8:44PM
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Love can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be used against people in the cruelest of ways.

    I found out why the residents of Greenhill were acting so standoffish. Their town had been targeted by a cult, which was using their underground catacombs as a staging ground for summoning malevolent spirits. They had enlisted a local helper to plant crystals throughout the village, essentially corrupting her neighbors with dark magic. But that wasn't the most distressing part of it.

    Once I infiltrated the catacombs, I found a note that explained the rationale behind the cultists' "recruiting" effort. They had picked out the married couple with the strongest bond, knowing that the wife would be easiest to manipulate to their foul ends. Monsters.

    I had been suspicious of Ezreba from the moment I saw her skulking around one of the victims' houses, but when I found out what was really going on my perspective changed drastically. She wasn't in league with the villains; she had suffered just as much as the others at their hands. And this wasn't like in Phaer when that "doctor" was duping himself into providing people to feed his vampire son. He should have known better, but Ezreba was acting out of sheer terror and desperation trying to save her husband. That doesn't make what she did right, but how could I have expected her to act any differently knowing why the cultists picked her out in the first place?

    Some of Ezreba's neighbors weren't happy that I encouraged Treethane Bowenas to allow her to stay in the village, but I reasoned that the loss of her husband was punishment enough for her involvement in the whole dark plot. If she's willing to stay in the place where he died, then I think she should have the chance to rebuild her life in the place she calls home. I still feel bad for her, but at least the merchants and other townsfolk aren't giving me snippy comments anymore.

    I do kind of want to punch things, though. Now where was that mine...
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Just when I'm tempted to be morose and cynical, I'm reminded that sometimes stories have a happy ending. Today I reunited a Khajiit couple after one of them had been caught up in gambling debts and taken to be sold as a slave. I already have no love for slave traders, given how close I came to being a victim myself in my old life, so once I realized the truth behind the garish veneer of the gambling establishment it wasn't hard to dispatch the ones who ran it.

    After the men were reunited, I overheard their conversation. One of them commented to the effect that "life is a story, and we can't skip to the last page." He meant that there are no shortcuts to achieving the life we dream of, and gambling one's way to quick wealth is just an illusion. But the way he phrased it got me mulling over the story of my own life, and all of the pages that have been filled with experiences, both happy and sad. It might be tempting to know what the ending of the story will bring, or just to skip over the sad and painful parts, but really the story only is what it is by virtue of being the sum of all of our experiences and the way we evolve in response to the things we go through. I wouldn't be the person I am now if I hadn't experienced pain and sorrow in addition to joy and triumph. Would I choose to forego those unhappy experiences if I could reshape my past? It might be tempting, but I have a feeling that I would have to erase more than just the sad parts. I certainly wouldn't give up my time with Darien or Razum-dar just to save myself the pain of their deaths. I just have to accept that my story is richer for everything I have seen and been through, for good or ill, and keep an open mind going forward into the blank pages yet to come.

    Maybe it's too early to say that those Khajiit will have a happy ending. Their story, after all, is ongoing, and they will have their entire lives to build up together. But at least they have a fortunate chapter behind them now.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    So many emotions. It's all just a jumble. I don't even know where to begin.

    Well no, I do know where to begin. Raz! Raz is alive! Part of me still can't believe it, but part of me always knew that a crumbling ancient ruin wasn't enough to take out someone like him. It's just a massive relief to know it for sure, to see him walking among us again.

    I had accompanied Khali to the Two Moons Dance, ready to fulfill my role as Moon Hallowed and walk the last part of the Path with her. The dignitaries of the Dominion had assembled in front of the temple, offering their moral support for the occasion. As I spoke to Queen Ayrenn, something behind her caught my eye and completely distracted me from what she was saying. A cat, leaning nonchalantly against a wall, that distinctive Aldmeri armor, that ridiculous red mohawk. I just stood and stared, and even Ayrenn had to laugh at my expression.

    Raz just grinned at me, no doubt enjoying my reaction. When I finally made my way over to him, he reminded me in his own way of the sacred and necessary task I was about to undertake, preempting me from lingering there to chat. He also made a sly reference to cheating death, hinting that there was a story to be told once my solemn business was settled.

    Khali herself wasn't too preoccupied with formality or reverence, and simply wanted to get this unpleasant chore out of the way. Her upbringing had taught her to expect challenges along the Path, but neither of us had any idea what exactly we would encounter.

    While the ritual in Rawl'kha focused on visions of the past, this one presented a bleak future in which the new Mane has failed the Khajiit and the Khajiit have in turn failed the Dominion. It was unsettling, especially since the visions focused on the fates of individuals who have become important to me. In a way the agonizing experience in Senalana was only a foretaste of what I would see and experience here.

    I'm still processing everything I just went through, but the overarching lesson was definitely about strength in unity. In this version of things to come, without the support of the Khajiit, the Dominion began collapsing under outside pressures and each remaining faction began tearing itself apart through desperation and inner conflict.

    We encountered the Silvenar and the Green Lady, on the run from their own people driven mad by the Wild Hunt. I watched the Silvenar himself finally lose control of his form and turn into a beast, forcing Khali and me to put him down. For the Green Lady, it was the inevitable outcome of the hopeless situation her people had been driven into. This time as the Green Lady prepared to fade from existence, it meant the demise of the Bosmer spirit itself, not simply one pair of individuals in a long line of succession.

    The Altmer had been similarly affected by divisiveness from within. The Veiled Heritance had reemerged as a focal point for the people's dissatisfaction with Ayrenn's ultimately ineffectual rule, to the point that even Battlereeve Urcelmo had turned against the Queen. We found Cariel and then Razum-dar, both fatally wounded by the traitor's blade, and the echoes of the pangs of sadness came back to me as this time I had to actually watch Raz slip closer and closer to death. I had to remind myself that he was still waiting for us to return to the outside world, but in the reality of this possible future, he was definitively dying and there was nothing I could do about it. All I could do was move ahead and take up his mantle as protector of the Queen. Except that Ayrenn herself had given up the will to live, and asked me only to let her die in solitude with whatever dignity she had left.

    For Khali, the message was clear. She had to overcome her insecurities and doubts and be a strong Mane for the sake of her people and all the people of the Dominion. Even as we continued on to face and defeat Javad Tharn, taking down a corrupted Shazah in the process, Khali's journey was all about finding the inner strength to do what must be done no matter what. By the time we emerged from our trial and proceeded to the coronation ceremony, Khali was truly ready to become Mane.

    But my lesson, it seemed, was much less clear and more complex. I had been sent to this time and place to learn some greater truth about the conflict in Tamriel, but it was all I could do to sort through the swirling emotions and dilemmas the visions had raised, some of which I have found myself grappling with before now. Duty versus self. The necessity of watching friends and loved ones die. The necessity of doing painful things for a greater good. The realization that sometimes I can't stop things from happening even when I'm trying to be the hero.

    These things had all been presented to me acutely during our walk on the Path, but hadn't I already been aware of these truths to some extent all along? Was this really what Meridia had sent me here to learn? Was all of this time and effort spent in the lands of the Dominion really just meant to confirm things I already knew?

    Before I could get too maudlin and philosophical, the coronation ceremony ended and it was time to speak to my assembled friends again. Razum-dar did not disappoint with his cheeky tale of narrow escape, and I was glad once again to have done what he needed me to do in that difficult moment. Urcelmo was chagrined by the implication that he could turn traitor, and the teasing he was getting from his Queen didn't help. The other dignitaries were looking forward to strengthening the Dominion with their new allies, and there was a general air of joviality over the defeat of Tharn and his forces and the restoration of peace in Dune.

    Ayrenn mentioned a new mission, but before she could get into the details I began feeling the pull of the Harborage. Somehow I understood that this mission, in this alternate reality, was to be the precursor to the invasion of Coldharbour, which I had already undertaken on behalf of Tamriel as a whole. And so, presumably, my time here had come to a close, and Cadwell would be wanting to speak to me on Meridia's behalf now that I had experienced the first part of her "gift."

    I haven't gone to see Cadwell yet, though. After bidding a tentative farewell to my Dominion friends, and wondering if they realized that this goodbye might be more final than most, I found that I wasn't really in any hurry to leave these lands. I certainly still had a lot on my mind, and the sun of Reaper's March was warm and pleasant.

    There were still fish to be caught, and treasure chests to be found, and the lingering questions to mull over before I went back to give my report to Cadwell. I was beginning to get a clearer picture of the larger scope of this conflict and my place in it. I had played an important part in the success of the Covenant during my "real" lifetime, saving High King Emeric on multiple occasions and stopping outside forces from dealing serious blows to the alliance. But if I had washed up on that beach in Khenarthi's Roost instead, I would have done my best to support the Dominion, not knowing any other alternative. This too was something I could have predicted before I even began my adventures here.

    Now, I suppose, the greater question was whether I could still support the Covenant as wholeheartedly after everything I had experienced as an agent of the Dominion. Which cause was the more just? Which faction was more worthy to rule Tamriel? Could I be happy about the Covenant's military victories, knowing that they came at the expense of the people I had spent so much time with and now knew as friends?

    The implications of the visions on the Path weighed on me. The collapse of the Dominion in this scenario had come about through a surge of strength from the Covenant and the Pact. Thinking purely strategically, this would be a good thing for the Covenant. Eliminating one opponent would make it easier for our side to claim ultimate victory. But emotionally, I couldn't stand seeing the leaders of the Dominion driven to such agonizing ends, or the people of the Dominion torn apart and brought low. If that's what our victory meant, could I really say that's what I wanted? And does not wanting to see the Dominion utterly defeated mean that I can't support the Covenant the way I would otherwise?

    Having wrestled with these questions (as well as some unruly fish) for quite some time, I think I've reached some measure of resolution. Of course I don't want bad things to happen to the people and societies I've gotten to know, and that's okay. I may be the Hero of the Covenant, but I am allowed to have personal feelings about the world around me. I need to remind myself that what I saw on the Path was only a vision, meant to guide our current thoughts, and not an inevitable or even probable future reality. But even more than that, I realize that the success of our side doesn't have to mean the annihilation of the other sides. As much as I don't want to see that future come to pass, I know that this isn't what High King Emeric would have wanted either. Emeric wants to rule over the peoples of Tamriel, not destroy them - or see them destroy themselves. And I think he would rather come by his victory as honorably as possible, not take his throne atop the ravaged corpses of those he seeks to conquer.

    I honestly don't know who is most fit to rule over all of Tamriel. As much as I respect and believe in High King Emeric, I also have a great deal of respect for Queen Ayrenn and her open-minded acceptance of other races as equal partners. If she could strengthen her core of support at home and quell the remnants of divisiveness within her kingdom, she could well prove to be a just ruler of the Empire. Perhaps it is meant to be a comfort to know that an Aldmeri Dominion victory would not be the worst thing to happen to Tamriel. I am glad that no one has asked me to make this decision (at least not yet, and I hope it stays that way - although who knows what Meridia has in mind for me once I've familiarized myself with all three sides of the conflict). For now I will be content as an observer, waiting to see how the world is shaped by powers outside my control.

    And that, I believe, is the crux of what I am taking away from this experience. There is much I can do, and have done, to make a difference wherever I find myself. Whether it's saving the life of a monarch or helping one man find peace with his beloved, I can make a difference. But the world is vast and full of machinations and volitions outside my own, and I must keep in mind that certain things will happen in certain ways regardless of how I might feel about them. Even within the Dominion, there was a whole reality beyond what I saw and did during my "journey" there. I honestly have no way of knowing what really transpired in those lands before I first encountered Queen Ayrenn and Razum-Dar as Vanus Galerion's escort. Perhaps another hero walked the path I did and made his or her own difficult choices that led them all to the place where we ended up. Perhaps everything I just experienced was yet another vision, showing me what Meridia wanted me to see. But having my eyes opened to what could have transpired if I had been there also makes me keenly aware of how much is happening in places where I'm not there.

    If the Daedric Princes do indeed have plans for me, and if I am still to play some pivotal role in some great conflict to come, then this is the time to prepare myself as much as possible, to learn as much as I can about the world and the peoples and machinations within it. It's relatively easy to "save the world" as an abstract concept, especially when the path is as clear as it was for me in stopping the Planemeld. But perhaps there is something on the horizon that will take more than determination and sharp arrows to resolve. Not knowing what might lie in store for me, on the blank pages of my future life, perhaps my current purpose is simply to observe and learn and allow myself to grow as much as possible before I'm thrust back into the cosmic fray.

    It all seems so simple to see it that way. And yet I’m not sure I would understand it so profoundly if I hadn't reached this conclusion at this point in time, after coming all this way. I have the feeling there is much still to ponder about what I've experienced and seen here, but at least I don't feel like I'll be at a loss if Cadwell asks me about my trip. It's gotten late now, though, and it's been a long and tiring day, so I think these warm sands will be my bed one last time before I head on back.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    All that soul-searching and angsting, all those profound revelations, and did Cadwell ask me a single question about my trip to the Dominion? Well I suppose he did ask me if I was feeling more enlightened, but before I could even open my mouth to tell him about what I had learned, he was off again on some tangent about getting the smell of Tamriel out of his clothes.

    I probably shouldn't have expected so much, and maybe part of the point was for me to have internalized all of those musings whether I had a formal report prepared or not. But it was still with a certain amount of forbearance that I accepted his proposal to set off to complete my trilogy of alliance experiences.

    This time I was prepared to be transported to an unfamiliar land, and it's probably a good thing. Davon's Watch is much more bleak and devastated than even Khenarthi's Roost was when I first arrived. I've seen the effects of war firsthand, obviously, but this was a stark contrast to the relative tranquility of Daggerfall and Vulkhel Guard. I tried to imagine how I would have felt if I had seen Daggerfall reduced to rubble and flames, and I can't deny that the thought turned my stomach. And yet the people of Davon's Watch seem to be doing their best to continue their daily lives, even as the air is filled with ash and trepidation.

    As I continued on through Bleakrock and Bal Foyen, my nerves were tested even further by the realization that all of this devastation was being caused by Covenant forces. The poor villagers of Bleakrock, forced from their simple way of life, their homes and livelihoods burned around them, all because some Covenant commander had decided their island had some marginal strategic importance. The warriors of Bal Foyen were not soldiers, for the most part; they were farmers and tradesmen pressed into service to protect their home. I had to keep reminding myself that here I was not a representative of the Covenant, but an impartial outsider thrust onto the scene and coming to the aid of simple people who needed my help. It wasn't the first time I had shot down Covenant soldiers, nor the first time I had encountered agents of the Covenant doing things I found distasteful, but for some reason my reaction was more visceral and emotional this time. I don't know, I just kind of wished it didn't have to be that way.

    I hadn't realized before that everyone in the Pact calls us the Daggers. That's kind of badass. At first I thought they meant that Bumnog and his mercenary band were attacking Davon's Watch, which seemed a little ambitious for them, or maybe that vigilante group I encountered in Rivenspire. But after hearing it a few more times in different contexts, it hit me that they were referring to all of us. Of course it's not meant as a compliment when they say it - it's the damned Daggers, or those Dagger bastards, or dogs, or milk-drinkers. I'm not sure I even understand the last one. I mean I'll throw down a mug of mead with a Nord any day (and have), but what's wrong with milk?

    Nord eccentricities aside, it is difficult hearing everyone I meet referring to us in such harsh terms. I'm not sure why my origin should become such a focus for me now, especially after spending so much time away from the Covenant, but there's a definite twinge every time I hear someone referring disparagingly to "them" and understand it as "you." I know I would probably feel the way they do if Stonefalls were my homeland, but it's still an exercise in self-control to play my part as if their words didn't directly affect me. Perhaps it's a lesson that the peoples of the Pact are as protective of their land as anyone else.

    It's been especially hard hearing such spite coming from Holgunn, whom I had known as an ally in Coldharbour. It makes me wonder now if it was difficult for him to come to terms with working with someone from the Covenant, and if he looked at me then the same way he looks at the Daggers now. If that's the case, I suppose I have to commend his restraint in not letting it show, but I'm glad I wasn't aware of it back then.

    On another note, the terrain here is just stunning. Everything is on fire. I can't quite say I've never seen anything like it, but there's something remarkable about being constantly surrounded by rock and fire. I keep getting distracted just running around the jagged sides of mountains, and it's not even just about looking for things to gather. I haven't fallen into any huge pools of lava yet, but there's still time.
    Edited by Ilsabet on September 12, 2016 6:30PM
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    It just keeps going. The Daggers attacked our village. The Daggers unleashed a curse on a peaceful reliquary. The Daggers provoked a tribe of goblins to storm a Nord hold. Every time I hear the word "Covenant," it's another dagger-prick in my chest. Why can't it just be daedra? Or bandits, or bears? Why does every problem in Stonefalls have to come back to this damned Covenant invasion?

    I find myself more and more going through the motions because I know that that's what I'm supposed to be here to do, even though every new task is another reminder that I'm not supposed to be here. I have to keep reminding myself that this is an alternate reality, that I'm not really thwarting my countrymen, that I'm not even really here. I feel for these people, I don't want them to suffer, I respect Holgunn and Tanval and Walks-In-Ash, but their cause is not my cause. Their cause is the destruction of my people, whose cause is the destruction of them. It all just makes me not want to be here, but I know that I can't just abandon the path I'm on.

    Even as I walked through the cheering throngs at Fort Virak, all I could manage was a weak smile and an occasional "yeah, it's... great... isn't it..." It's a process that repeats every time someone praises me for crushing the Covenant at Davon's Watch. I can't deny my accomplishments, but it all feels so hollow.

    I found Gabrielle's name on a note in a cave. Apparently it was her idea to drive out the goblins to mess with the Pact. She always was one for creative approaches. It was nice to see a familiar name, but at the same time it made me sad to see a friend attached to a problem that I was setting out to solve.

    A short time ago I caught myself actually feeling a little proud of the Covenant for being able to push so far and be so effective. It's unnerving to feel this way when I'm pretending to be an agent of the Pact. I can't tell if these feelings are a natural part of what Meridia wants me to experience here, or if it's proof that I'm not yet stronger than my baser self.

    But enough of that philosophizing. It's time for action, always action. Now it's onward to see if there's a way to stop Tanval Indoril from doing something really stupid in the name of vengeance. Standing over Garyn's body after his father and Holgunn had rushed off was actually one of the few moments of personal clarity I've had recently. I truly felt sorry for him. He was my friend, and the sadness I felt in that moment amidst the swirling turmoil was genuine. It was refreshing in a way. And then it was back out into the throng, back on with the stoic mask, back out to see what new vexations the Pact has in store for me.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I found myself daydreaming today. I suppose my mind needed a respite from all of the angst it's been dwelling on lately. It might also have had something to do with the Breton love charm I came across the other day. (Why an Argonian would have a Breton love charm in a safebox, I don't know, but I generally don't ask too many questions while I'm going through other people's safeboxes.) I've only seen those charms amongst the gaudy displays of the traveling merchants that came through my village on the way to Aldcroft or Camlorn, and back then I knew that they were meant for people with idler hands than mine. The bauble would fetch a fair price, but when the time came to fence it, I found that I couldn't quite bring myself to part with it. So for now I'm hanging onto it, and only feeling a little bit silly when I pull it out to look at it. It is a pretty little thing, the sort of thing a more fanciful girl might clasp close to her heart while she gazes up at the stars and makes a wish for the fates to bring her true love near. I'm not sure if I was ever that wistful, but it would be hard to imagine the me of today believing in something like that.

    And yet earlier today I found myself staring off into space, my fingers idly closed around the little trinket, and for the first time in a while I just thought of him. It's a comfort, perhaps, that I can still picture that smile, hear his voice, recall the images from our time together. It wasn't even that melancholy. It was like reminiscing about an old friend. And did the notion flit through my mind, uninvited and of its own accord, how lovely it would be if making a wish on a charm could really bring my love back to me? If it did, I probably wouldn't admit it.

    I did think back to some of the encounters I had with people in Stonefalls, in between the goblins and the curses and the pretending not to be a Dagger. That Nord from Hrogar's Hold and his Dunmer wife, Edwina, had met on a battlefield during the Akaviri conflict. Their love had withstood both the strain of war and the strident disapproval of her family, who disowned her for daring to marry a man of another race. She had been willing to give up her old life to be with him, and they seemed very happy together despite their current calamities. It was heartening to see.

    It made me wonder how things would have been if Darien and I hadn't both been Bretons. I mean I'm not what you would call a racist, especially after everything I've been through since beginning my new life. But before that point, I had hardly ever seen people of other races. There were a couple of Orcs in my village, and a Redguard or Nord might pass through from time to time, but I can't remember ever even seeing an Argonian or a Dark Elf before I found myself in Coldharbour. So the idea of marrying anyone other than a Breton just wasn't really something I had a reason to consider.

    So I wonder, just as idle speculation, if I would have fallen so readily for Darien if he hadn't been a Breton. For one thing, would he have been the same kind of man? Would, say, an Altmer Darien have been as charming, or a Dunmer Darien have been as good-humored? (I spent a good ten minutes giggling over trying to picture all the different possible Dariens. It was a good thing there wasn't anyone else around to see me.) Would we have met and gotten to know each other the same way if he hadn't been a native of Camlorn? There's really no telling, of course, but presuming the only difference was his race, would that have gotten in the way?

    I don't really think so. Maybe I'm being presumptuous about myself, but if I loved someone for who he was, it wouldn't matter if we were different. If other people disapproved, I'd probably wear our love as a badge of honor. If he wanted to stand by me and I by him, we'd do it even more strongly in the face of senseless opposition. At least that's the way I picture it. And really, I have no family ties anymore, so who would try to punish me for going against some societal expectation? That's a benefit of being on my own, I guess.

    The Dunmer do seem awfully preoccupied with things like class and status. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around all of the different groups and houses and how they tell who's supposed to be "higher" than whom, but it does seem to be a big deal to them. Simply marrying outside one's station is seen as an offense, even if both of them are Dunmer. And people can be irrationally cruel to each other using their class differences as an excuse.

    If they hadn't already been ghosts, I would have liked to punch the "noble" (in station, if not in demeanor) Dunmer couple who found it delightful to watch a poor lowborn girl suffer over her love for the faithless husband. Not faithless to his wife, mind you, but someone who intends to remain married should not make promises to someone else whom he has no intention of really being with. I felt sorry for Bala, especially after finding out how she had been manipulated, but she was so far gone that even after finding out about her lover's deception, she couldn't bring herself to break free and decided to join him in death. Some might admire her devotion, but if you ask me, devotion to those who don't deserve it is just wasted. The only thing that awaited her was more rejection, which is probably why she's still out standing next to the road sighing and looking miserable. Undying love is a nice ideal, but not when it's undeserved and only causes misery.

    Of course here I am, still mooning over someone who's long gone and who I'll probably never see again. Maybe he is waiting for me, on whatever aetherial plane we're destined for. We'll both have to be patient, though, since I've got a lot more to do before I even think of leaving this world. For once it doesn't even have to be a big angsty question about whether I would consider killing myself to join him. We'd both have a good laugh at the idea if it ever even came up.

    Thinking about all of this has actually made me feel better about life. I might actually be able to have a restful night's sleep for once. And if I'm lucky, a certain handsome Breton might show up in my dreams.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Now this is more like it. Plague-spreading cultists, a magic school in peril, a poisoned mine... The land of Deshaan is less harsh and severe than Stonefalls, and it feels like I've walked out of a dark cloud into something resembling the world I've known. I've hardly heard anyone grouse about the Daggers since I've been here. Maybe that charm brought me good fortune after all.

    Now if only I could come up with a tactful way to suggest that Almalexia put on some pants...
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Gah. I think that starry-eyed daydreaming might have gone to my head. I'm usually able to tell fact from fantasy, and even if something sounds wonderful on the surface, I can see through the sheen and know that accepting reality is preferable to indulging in delusions. And indeed, I did recognize what was happening here in Deep Graves. But, the scary thing was... I felt myself sympathizing with the delusion. I almost didn't want to break the spell, even though I had to. If you could have your perfect loved one back, and believed it was that person reincarnated, wouldn't you want to hold onto that happiness?

    The Altmer didn't have much else to live for, having forsaken his duty and his brethren and devoted himself to finding any possible means of rescuing his wife from the void between life and death. And here, in the Argonian swamp, he had finally found a place where the spirit of his love could be bound once again to this world and live with him in a way reminiscent of their old life.

    Something about the way he described her, the image of her sketched into his journal... I found it easy to believe that she had been a paragon of loveliness and grace in life. I felt the emotional weight of that loss, the way the world feels when someone truly special is taken out of it. And if that person had truly become incarnate in an Argonian, the way he described? If such a thing were possible, and there were no ugly machinations afoot, wouldn't that be a thing of wonder?

    But of course there were machinations, as I could have guessed if I were feeling more my usual skeptical self. It only took a few moments in the presence of the "perfect" wife to see that she was putting on an act, wearing the persona of the epitome of Altmer nobility and bristling at the suggestion that she might be lacking in beauty (even though that wasn't even what I was implying - I really sort of did expect to see an Argonian there). Her possessiveness showed through the cracks, and the idealistic fantasy came crumbling down. It was simply the plot of a conniving wispmother after all.

    Letting the duped Altmer dwell with his delusions was an option, of course. But I had been warned of the dangers of this wispmother, of her habit of luring travelers into her clutches and never letting them leave. I couldn't just let her have this man's body and soul, and maybe the deception made me a little more bitter than I needed to be. No, there is no magical reincarnation, and you can't have your deceased loved one back. That's the reality we must all live with.

    The man said that he was glad that I had broken the spell, but he also said he wished I had never come along. As I left him behind to pick up the pieces of his futile research, I kind of felt the same way.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I've been carrying around a letter entrusted to me by an Argonian in Alten Corimont. I've managed to restrain myself from reading it, but based on what I overheard while the woman was penning it, it's quite heartfelt. She's long had feelings for an old acquaintance, but after he moved away her letters went unanswered for years. She was fearful that he may not even be alive anymore, and asked me to discover his whereabouts and deliver her final letter.

    Well I did find Luteema, and he was still among the living, despite my pessimistic expectations. I was further surprised to learn the reason why he had stopped writing back to Rabeen-Ei. He hadn't been ignoring her letters, or in any kind of mortal danger. In fact he had no idea that she'd even been sending them. His late wife, whom he had left Alten Corimont to pursue all those years ago, had been intercepting and presumably destroying the letters before he could see them. While Rabeen-Ei had been pining away and agonizing over the fate of her beloved, Luteema had been completely unaware that she was even still thinking of him. It was kind of a poignant twist.

    On an encouraging note, Luteema seemed pleased to learn that his old friend still thought fondly of him, and now that his wife is deceased, the door is open for the two of them to renew a relationship. At the time Luteema was rather more preoccupied with the Dominion incursion into his town, though, and there's no guarantee that the two of them will even find each other again now that Rabeen-Ei has set about moving away from Alten Corimont. But as much as the world finds ways to keep people apart, I'd like to hold out hope that those two Argonians can find a way to make up for the time that has been lost to them.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Now here's an interesting question. What if you fall in love with someone, and build a happy relationship with them, but it turns out that they are in some way "broken" and decide to "fix" themselves, and then they're no longer the person you fell in love with, and you find that you don't feel the same way about them?

    Fortunately everything worked out okay in the end for Ja-Reet and Feyne, but their situation did get me thinking. Ja-Reet had been born and raised among slaves in Narsis, far from his homeland and the Hist. According to the Argonian Tree-Minders, his development had been stunted and he lacked the instincts of his people. After befriending, courting, and marrying the daughter of his overseer, he had decided to return to the Marsh to seek a reawakening of his Argonian nature.

    Feyne of course had been averse to the whole idea from the start. She didn't see anything wrong with her husband, and she was clearly unhappy living in the swamp. She had come from a place of privilege, having forced her community to accept an interracial marriage, and now she was the outsider, the one the community was reluctant to refer to as the wife of one of their own. I felt sorry for her. She simply wanted to support the person she loved.

    Whether the venture had been worth it was still up for debate when I arrived. Ja-Reet had apparently made progress, but was still emotionally withdrawn and only really opened up when he was around his wife. Over the course of my attempts to free the town from the invaders who wanted to use the spirit of their Hist against them, I walked in Ja-Reet's spiritual shoes and observed how he might have stood up for himself in the past. Reliving these experiences in his place apparently allowed him to forge a connection to the Hist and restore his missing "self."

    All of this was well and good for the town, and prevented Ja-Reet from becoming a shell of his former self. But it also changed who he was, on a fairly fundamental level as I understood it. At the point when I spoke to him, he seemed to have come to terms with his transformation, and was mulling over what he should do next. After asking him about his options and hearing what he and his wife thought, I advised him to pursue what the Tree-Minder had called his "destiny" and become a healer. Even if it means that Feyne must endure her current dissatisfaction a little longer, I believe that Ja-Reet will find fulfillment in his calling and that it will lead to opportunities in a place where they can both be content. And ultimately, Feyne was happy that her husband would be doing something that made him happy.

    But what if it hadn't worked out so well for everyone involved? What if Ja-Reet's new personality was off-putting to Feyne? What if his newfound interest in healing replaced his interest in her? This development could have been disastrous for their relationship if things had been a little different.

    A commitment as significant as marriage should be made only after both people are certain that they've found the person they want to share the rest of their lives with. But once it's made, they're committed to that person no matter what. I suppose this isn't the first time I've seen a married couple where one person has changed drastically, often not for the better. But turning against your husband because he's gone mad and turned your son into a monstrosity is one thing; could I as easily justify leaving someone because his new "improved" self doesn't inspire the same feelings that he once did?

    I don't know, maybe I should just be happy for them and not dwell too much on unpleasant hypotheticals. Most relationships will never run into anything this extreme beyond the natural ebbs and flows of people's lives. But it is something to think about.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I may have just had my strangest experience since I've been in the Pact. I met someone who could have been myself, if things had turned out just a little differently.

    She was a Breton woman, who had been sold into slavery when she was 15. That's how old I was when those skeeving bandits got ahold of me. I know that's what they wanted to do with me, even as they smiled at me and called me their mate. For all I know they actually did make a deal to sell me off, and that's how I ended up in the Worm Cult's clutches.

    But enough of them. Suriel had it even worse, I think. She had been sold off by her own father. She didn't even have a say in the matter. One conversation behind her back, and she was owned by someone she didn't even know. She'd spent years in the service of a Dunmer woman before I encountered her as she was trying to make her escape. I intervened on her behalf, as I must, and as far as I know she's currently trying to find a ship to stow away on.

    The strangest part was that, in my current guise, neither of them recognized me as a Breton. I was simply a member of the Pact. The Breton woman was surprised that I would help her, and the Dunmer woman was surprised that I would deny her her rightful property. I guess Meridia's mask must be quite powerful indeed.

    As the wheels turned after I left the two of them behind, I couldn't help picturing myself in Suriel's place. I could very easily have ended up as someone's maid, or stable girl, or something even more degrading. Thinking about it made me shudder. I mean it's not that I'm averse to doing hard work - I grew up doing hard work for my family. And maybe the life wouldn't actually be that bad, with a kind master and my needs taken care of. But I could never see myself being happy as a slave. Being someone else's property, unable to live my life for myself and make my own decisions... comparing that to the way I am now, there's no question which is preferable, even with all of the challenges I've faced along my current path. It almost even makes me glad that things happened the way they did. I never would have asked to be sacrificed, but if a different buyer had come along, I could be languishing away scrubbing floors instead of finding a new life as an adventuring hero. And now I wonder what might have happened to Nirn in that case, if I hadn't become the Vestige?

    But perhaps I shouldn't get too full of myself (as tempting as it is). Maybe Meridia and the fates would have come up with another way to foil Molag Bal's schemes. But as it is now, I'm almost grateful that it was the Worm Cult that got ahold of me, because in some ways the alternatives could have been worse.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    That last bit of musing made me think back to the way I ended up in Coldharbour. I don't think I've ever fully elaborated on what happened to me before I was sent there.

    My father was the stablemaster in our little town. He had a horse that he bred, the finest we ever raised, and it was bought by a nobleman in Aldcroft. The day it was supposed to be delivered, Pa had wrenched his ankle a few days before and Ma was taking care of him and the stables, and everybody else had some reason why they couldn't go take the horse. Everybody but me. I didn't want to go, of course - it might be odd for a stablemaster's daughter, but I've never liked horses, ever since that dapple beast nearly bucked me when I was 8. But I was the only one who could go, and it was hard to be stubborn with so much coin on the line. So I went.

    I only made it halfway to Aldcroft. I was barely into the moors when a bunch of bandits jumped me. It was all I could do to keep the panicking horse under control. I probably should have just tried to ride away, but we were surrounded and all I could think of when I saw their drawn blades was how I couldn't let them cut the horse's legs or it'd be worthless. Just when I was getting it settled down, one of their brutes came up and grabbed the reins while two of his buddies pulled me down off of the saddle. They dragged me over to their leader, and I can still see his smarmy face leering at me as he inspected his new goods. I tried to offer to let them keep the horse if they'd just let me go, but he just laughed and told his boys to keep a close eye on me.

    I kept quiet after that, partly out of fear and partly because I didn't want to cause any more trouble for myself than necessary. But I watched them, and watched where they took me, and I saw where they kept their stash at their hideout. And that night I slipped out of their poorly-tied bonds, snuck past their drunk "guards," and helped myself to as much of their coin as I could carry without making too much noise. I reckon I got enough to cover the cost of the horse, plus a few trinkets just for spite.

    I made it just far enough to think I might actually get away before they caught up with me. I hadn't been able to find a bow lying around, but I had one of their daggers, and you can believe that at that point I was ready to use it. I knew there was no way I could take them all down, and they knew it too. But this time when the bandit leader looked at me and laughed, he actually sounded a little bit impressed. A little girl with such talents could be useful, they'd decided. And now I had a choice: join them and put my talents to use for their benefit, or test my flimsy dagger against their armory. I didn't like it, but the choice was clear. They got their coin back, and I got a gang of "mates" who looked after me just as long as I kept coming back with more loot.

    It should have been easier than it was to take my leave. I was just outside the familiar roaming radius of my home, but I know how to read the stars and I'm not afraid of the moors. But the way the boss and his lieutenants kept looking at me, the thinly-veiled threats they sprinkled into conversations, I knew that I'd only get one chance. They knew I didn't want to be there. If they caught me trying to escape again, I wouldn't get another try. And so I bided my time, played nice, did their dirty work, kept my head down and my eyes open. I felt sure that if I was just patient enough, I'd be ready to go whenever my opportunity came along.

    Needless to say that opportunity didn't come. It must have been about two months since I joined their company, I overheard the boss telling his cronies about some big deal in the works. When they saw me looking at them, they stopped talking. The next time I woke up, it was in Coldharbour.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Why do people keep making me kill them? They could be reasonable. They could be honest. They could not turn their backs on their principles. But no - they betray, they deceive, they scheme, as if I'm not going to see through their pretenses and bring their true nature to light. I'm tired of it. I don't like that I've become someone with suspicion ingrained in my nature, who's hardly even surprised anymore when someone turns out to be working against me. And I have very little sympathy left for those who leave me with no other choice than to strike them down.

    I know deception is nothing new. Aelif, Estre, Pelidil, the story of my adventures is littered with people who schemed in secret while playing nice with the world. But lately... it's been happening so much. So many people want to get away with so much just because they think they can. They think they can hoodwink me and stomp all over people and get away with it. And I am not having any of that crap. Hell, I can't even go to a party without things going badly and people ending up dead. I mean I guess that bard didn't intend for those goblins to show up, and I felt bad enough for him to let him out of his cage, but it was just one more thing to add to the parade of bad experiences.

    A Redguard loses his wife to an illness that a healer can't cure, and he decides to wipe out an entire village in retaliation. I would have killed him if I hadn't needed him to tell me where I could find the supplies that were necessary to save the life of one of his victims. He's just lucky no one from that village actually died - and I wonder if he realizes that it was only because that same healer was able to save everyone who was hurt.

    I was fully prepared to kill Ormi for turning against her calling in Kynesgrove, despite knowing why she was doing it. It was only the intervention of her son that stayed my hand long enough for her to find redemption.

    I killed Eorim in Old Sord's Cave because of the man she loved. I actually felt sorry that that was the reason, but then I'd say she chose the wrong man to fall in love with and blindly follow. Philosophical pondering about matters of the heart will have to wait.

    I killed Fildgor Orcthane, when I could have shown mercy and let his brother the king decide how best to exact justice, because I was tired of everything he had put me through. He was shown mercy ten years ago, and we all saw how that turned out. How many people had suffered and died because Fildgor couldn't accept his defeat? I wasn't about to give him yet another chance.

    And now Aera. Even Aera, who was so devastated when she lost her daughter in Bal Foyen, who was so relieved that her men still lived, who just wanted to find a way to cope and move on with her life. She greeted me as a friend, called me hero, but even then there was an almost imperceptible edge, a hint of spite, that I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't grown so cynical. And even then I didn't expect her to be the one manipulating the strings of the Worm Cult here in Nimalten. She must have known that I would try to stop her. Even as she feigned surprise at the attempts on the Thane's life, even as she sent me to investigate the Cult, she must have known it would come to this. Or did she take me so lightly? Did she, like the skinchangers in Fort Amol, really think that I could be lured into a trap and disposed of quietly? Shame on her if that was the case.

    Maybe that's why I'm so bitter about all of this. I am not a fool, not to be taken so lightly. I have struck down greater foes than these churls could ever think of being. I am not someone who takes nonsense from anyone. And yet these fools keep thinking they can walk all over me.

    In a way I understand why Aera did what she did. I know that desperation and despair can drive people to do unforgivable things. And I considered forgiving her. I thought about it longer than I probably should have, while she stood there watching me with those despondent eyes. And just as I had resolved to reach for my weapon and end things, I felt a twinge of what must have been some lingering trace of compassion. She was truly sorry for what she had done, what she had become. She felt shame. She would have to answer for the crimes she had committed, but maybe her justice didn't have to come at my hand in that moment.

    And then, when I offered her the chance to face justice, she attacked me. "Your story ends now, Hero of Bal Foyen." That's how my show of mercy was rewarded. That's what I get for having just a little bit of faith in the humanity of someone I once considered a friend.

    The Thane decided to tell everyone that Aera was "slain valiantly" defending her from the Worm Cult. I suppose she doesn't want to add to the unease in town by admitting that someone from the Pact was a traitor. I've kept my mouth shut out of respect for the Thane and her reasons, but going along with that ruse makes me sick to my stomach.

    When I left the Thane's hall some guy accosted me with his problems, claiming someone had stolen his silk. I agreed to help, as I always do, but I really don't care about some guy's stolen silk. I don't really feel like dealing with anybody's problems right now. In fact wandering around aimlessly is sounding pretty good.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can't believe I'm about to say this, but... maybe these Nords are on to something with this mead thing. I mean my head feels like it's been stomped by ten mammoths, but at least I don't hate life anymore. I think? Maybe. We'll see how I feel when it wears off. But I actually managed to go to a party without everybody dying! And it was fun! And the only thing that went marginally wrong was some bards getting drunk and having some giant trouble! And I didn't even have to kill any giants to rescue them!

    I probably shouldn't have started with the challenge that involved downing ten mugs of mead in less than two minutes. Or however long it was. It seemed like plenty of time at the start, but between the trips to the buffet and the two unfortunate vomiting incidents, I was chugging my last mug when time was called. It was not a proud moment. But at that point I didn't give two hoots. I made it through, and I even had enough presence of mind to not lose my marbles reciting Geirmund's Oath while everything was green. People were talking so slow after that though. I don't know what their problem was. But whatever! I was victorious!

    I can't believe I almost didn't want to come over here after getting all depressed about that stuff that happened. I mean I felt better after wandering around for a while and only having to think about looking for stuff to gather and dealing with the occasional unruly sabre cat. I even got that silk business straightened out for those idiots who tried to steal from each other. I probably shoulda just chucked the stuff in the fire, but I can't bring myself to be wasteful like that. But anyway. I felt a little better after that so I figured why not take the nice bard lady up on her invitation to go do some challenges. And now here I am! The Champion of Geirmund Hall! Huzzah!

    I think I might need to take a break from the festivities and go lie down for a bit...
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Note to self: Consuming massive amounts of mead, while cathartic, is not advisable as a long-term coping strategy for angst. At least smiting Worm Cultists only requires a semi-clear head.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    "Our paths down the river are now one." That's a beautiful way to put it. I'm so happy for Walks and Holgunn. It's another reminder that sometimes difficult paths can bring good people together. And sometimes it even works out for them.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Dear men: Let me tell you how not to win a lady's heart.

    First, don't decide she's yours before she does. Remember how I said "win"? You have to earn it. Possessiveness is not the same as devotion. She might be the one woman in the world for you, but she deserves the right to decide for herself if you're the man for her. And if she doesn't, you can try wooing her, but you can't force her. At least you shouldn't. Because that's jerkish, and being a jerk isn't attractive.

    If she loves someone else, or is already in a relationship, respect her feelings and commitments. You can let her know how you feel if you want, but don't make a big deal out of it if she doesn't return your feelings. Even if you're sure that the guy she likes is more into glory and adventure or whatever than settling down with her. It's great that you want to be there for her if her other romance falls through, but you don't need to be pushy about it.

    Don't creep all over her if you've known her since she was a little girl. True, sometimes an older man and a younger woman can make a perfectly fine couple. But telling her she's become a beautiful woman is just a reminder that you're basically her dad or uncle or grandpa. And that's creepy, and will not encourage her to marry you. Especially if you're manipulating her actual grandpa in a way that's also creepy.

    And for the love of all the Divines, DON'T MURDER HER ENTIRE FAMILY BECAUSE THEY'RE STANDING IN YOUR WAY. Even if they have issues, and even if they're kind of jerks. There are ways you can help that aren't homicide. You can be supportive without making her family out to be enemies that must be eliminated. Being a murderous psychopath is not attractive. Well, unless she's into that sort of thing too. But if that's the case, she's probably already murdering her family, so you still shouldn't do it. I mean she shouldn't do it either, because... you know what, just nevermind. And for pity's sake, don't also murder the poor farmhand whose only crime was also thinking your girlfriend was pretty and nice.

    Also, if you do actually get to marry her, don't sleep with her sister.

    Signed: Someone who's never been in a real relationship but somehow still knows more about how to handle this stuff than you apparently do.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    And so, there we have it. Three alliances experienced, right up to the moment forces began to mobilize against Molag Bal's evil scheme. This time around wasn't nearly as emotional and philosophical as the end of my adventure in the Dominion, thankfully. Just a ghost giant and his master to defeat, friends to wish well, a few loose ends to tie up, and back to see Cadwell again. It felt like such a long time since I'd been back to the Harborage, and even Glenumbra itself. I had to take a few moments just to take in my surroundings before I went to wrap up my quest.

    I already knew not to expect too much from Cadwell by way of insight, but it would have been nice to converse a little bit more and get something resembling guidance. I still don't know if what I experienced was some form of "reality" or if it was all in my head. But Cadwell was his usual amicable but scatterbrained self, so it soon became clear that I wasn't going to get any kind of deep conversation out of him. In fact the only thing I really got out of him was a spare pot. I mean it is fairly enjoyable to go around with a pot on my head, at least until the headache sets in. But you know.

    He was confident that I'd be ready for whatever the Daedric Princes have up their sleeves, but in the absence of some new invasion or cataclysm, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Upon reflection it's a bit liberating, and maybe I'll take the opportunity to reacquaint myself with my home alliance or see what the rest of Tamriel is like now that I'm outside the bounds of my alternate realities. And I should maybe go see if I can help that guy from Craglorn who I've been kind of brushing off every time I see him in one of the capital cities.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    That mess in Craglorn seems to be settled now. It was all fairly straightforward, aside from the challenges of running around on the trails of three different Celestials at once. There was a bit of sentiment at the end of things, when my new Imperial friend needed to return to his own time before he completely forgot himself. It must have been difficult for him to find himself suddenly transplanted to a new place in time surrounded by people he didn't know. Now that I think about it, it was probably akin to how I felt when I was taken away from my old life and had to start over in Coldharbour.

    Titus proved himself a valuable ally as we struggled against the machinations of the Serpent and his followers. The strain took a toll on him, though, even beyond the stress of battle. Simply being misplaced was eating away at his being, and he was losing himself little by little. Finally even the Warrior's power couldn't reach him, and I was sent to help him regain enough of his sense of self to reestablish his connection with his own time and return home.

    I found him at his wife's grave. She was still alive in his own time, of course, and he had described her to me as fierce and brilliant. I knew how badly he wanted to return to her, and now as his very identity faded within him, she was the one thing he clung to as a reminder of who he really was. Being confronted with her death was a blow to him, and when I found him he had already begun to give in to despair. But still, he desperately fought to remember her as she was, and to remember himself as he had been when he was with her.

    I felt a little helpless watching him there, wanting to reassure him, wishing that I could encourage him to focus on the bond of love that they shared. But the Warrior had other ideas, and fortunately his plan to present Titus with a legendary weapon was enough to reforge his identity as the Warrior's champion and bring him to his senses.

    Maybe it was the blade that finally snapped Titus out of his breakdown, but I'm sure that it was his need to remember his wife that helped him hold on long enough to be saved. It's inspiring to see a love that transcends even time, and to know that love itself can be so powerful. It almost makes me wonder what else might be possible through that power. And if it could... would my feelings be strong enough... But, no. Right now I should mostly be happy for my friend's return home, and hope that the people of Craglorn will have a little less trouble now that the heavens have been appeased.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Linnea Heavy-Pockets - EP Nord Templar brawler
    Lollygags-Where-She-Likes - EP Argonian Templar healer
    Gurtha gra-Margaz - DC Orc Sorcerer stormflailer
    My characters and their overly elaborate backstories
    Ilsabet's Headcanon
    PC NA
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