EDIT: Rather than posting individual chapters here, I've decided to post the full story in an e-book esque format on my blog: Done-Mer (get it?) Don't worry, no downloads or anything sketchy. You can just click to read fullscreen. Thanks for reading! This follows the story of my Vestige character, Azaryne, on his adventures. It's been a while since I've written anything, but me and Tricksterpale's ESO nerds have been inspiring me lately. I am 99.9% likely to change the title of this if/as I move forward. Formatting was a bit weird since the italics really blend in, so I indented the flashbacks as well. Thanks for reading!
Read the full story here!
Chapter 1: The Last Day
It was hard to tell if the pain in his head was from a blow or the fall. Azaryne could still taste the bitter flavor of sleeping magic on his tongue, but it was impossible to determine the source.
Taking inventory of his body, he realized that his hands were carefully bound together by thick rope. There was barely enough room to keep from stopping circulation, and certainly no opportunity to wriggle free. His cheek was pressed against a cold, musty smelling surface. As his vision came into focus, he realized he was lying on a cobbled stone floor.
Memories swam through his mind groggily as he fought to remember where he was-- or at least where he had been the last time he was conscious. He could hear a girl’s voice… The clashing of steel…
"Oh, come on Meril!" Eralane shouted.
She dropped her sword arm in frustration and shook her head, pulling more strands of hair from her disheveled braid. Merilius's face was pale and sweaty, and Azaryne wondered for a moment if he might be about to retch.
"Take it easy." He said to Eralane, stepping away from his own archery target and toward the sparring pair. "This is his first real training session. Don't you remember when you were 15?"
"Az, how is he going to learn to fight if he can't even see an opportunity when it dances in front of him?" Eralane demanded. "I could put down my weapon and stand here with my arms stretched out and he still wouldn't hit me."
Azaryne watched as Meril's complexion somehow went even paler than it had been as his sister attempted to pantomime her suggested situation.
Az put down his longbow and unstrapped his quiver, setting them carefully to the side before moving to the weapon rack and picking up a long blunted sword. He shooed his sister away with a wave of his hand and stepped into the rope circle that had been laid into the dirt.
He slid his feet into a comfortable fighting stance and presented his weapon to the terrified boy before him.
"It's..." He started, thoughtfully, looking at the rounded point of his blade. Meril shook silently in front of him, his already wide red eyes stretching open even further, as though convinced that in this moment he was about to die.
"Imagine it's a game of tag." Az said finally. He stepped forward in a slow, fluid motion and tapped his brother on the side. "But with longer arms."
A smile rose to Azaryne's lips as he watched Meril's face soften slightly, and heard
Eralane scoffing loudly from behind them.
"So now, you're It. But, it doesn't count if you only hit my sword. So try to tag part of my body, ok?"
Meril nodded, shakily raising his own sword and looking over Az with darting eyes.
Azaryne groaned, screwing his eyes shut. He attempted to pull his head up off of the ground, but only managed to inch forward toward the thick metal bars that lined what must have been his cage.
The sound of footsteps echoed through a stone walled corridor. It was then that he realized that even within the cage he was not alone. There were other bodies, bound as he was but far more alert, leaning against bars, each other…
He did not recognize any of the faces that he saw. Judging by their clothing, they were mostly commoners and servants, and a man in House Telvanni robes. There were a few Argonian slaves, and even children.
He could only assume that he must be the latest addition to whatever twisted gathering they were assembled for.
When Meril stepped forward to land his blow, Az did not stand still. Instead, he moved very slowly and exaggeratedly, as though moving through water, to evade the attack. The older boy brought up his own weapon to parry the blow and stepped gracefully to the side, nodding encouragingly.
He stepped forward and tried again and again, each movement faster than the last; slashing in broad arcs which Az would parry with a swift tap of his own weapon, or thrusting timidly as Az easily evaded. After a few minutes, they were almost moving at full speed, with short bursts of laughter filling the air just as often as the clashing of steel.
"See, you're doing so well!" Az chuckled to the boy as he sidestepped another forceful swing. "Keep this up and you'll be a better fighter than even father."
Merilius fought to keep from snorting loudly as he swung his sword again.
"Sure." He replied. "And I suppose you'll be a dance instructor, with all your fancy
Az's expression suddenly turned deathly serious, and Meril's movements stopped in their tracks. However, instead of swinging to hit back, Azaryne sunk into a regal bow.
"My dear serjo, may I have this dance?" He said, articulating each word with every bit of formality that he could muster with a straight face.
After a brief moment they both burst into laughter so loud and so mirthful that Az fully buckled to his knees, allowing Meril to step forward and tap him on the chest.
"And now, you're It." Meril said, fighting to catch his breath.
"Yes, I am." Az responded. He wiped tears from his eyes with the back of his hand and moved to stand and brush himself off.
However, he suddenly felt a firm grip on his shoulder, and he knew immediately from the size of the palm whose hand it was.
As the footsteps grew nearer, he saw shadows emerging from the halls. Black robed figures, led by an Altmer with long white hair and a pointed circlet and a staff carved of wood as black as night.
Black cloaked mages..?
But that didn’t make sense.
Azaryne coughed loudly and sprung to attention, causing Merilius to drop his weapon to do the same.
"Playing games? On your brother's first day training with the others? Are you really that foolish?"
Azaryne’s mouth opened and closed again like a fish, searching for words to defend himself. However, before he could come up with a good explanation, Meril had already begun.
"Father, he was helping me!" Meril blurted out from behind him. Az closed his eyes in regret.
Now he had truly done it.
"You call this helping, Azaryne?” His father demanded. "Do you think that in the heat of battle, an enemy will just 'play tag'? Do you think that at war--"
"But we aren't at war!" Azaryne protested.
"Not right now, we aren't, but we could be at any time! We could be invaded, or there could be an uprising. It's happened before, and it's my duty as the leader of House Redoran to ensure that our troops are ready for battle whenever that might happen. And it is your duty to be learning what you can from me, because one day this will be your duty. That is the honor and privilege of your noble birth, but instead of doing what is right, you choose to do what is easiest!”
Az suddenly found the strength to sit up, wrestling himself upright despite the bonds at his wrists and ankles. As the mages approached the cage, Az heard one of the children behind him whimper. He instinctively looked around for a blade-- a bow-- a club-- anything that might be able to be turned into a weapon. His own swords were gone from his side, leaving him hopelessly vulnerable even after all of his military training.
One of the mages carried an urn filled to the brim with something shimmering and purple. Azaryne thought he recognized the clinking of the animus crystals they used at the fort to power enchanted weapons.
He folded his arms and looked away from his father's indignant scowl. There was nothing that he could do to protest. Regardless of his intentions, he hadn't followed the exact rules, and was therefore in the wrong. Despite his lack of response, his father began speaking again, further drilling home his disappointment.
"There are many of your kinsmen who have worked hard to earn what you were gifted by blood, and you continue to disrespect that." He raised a hand, quoting from their own house words, "Life is hard, and events must be judged, endured, and reflected upon with due care and earnestness. A light--"
"--careless life is not worth living."
Azaryne froze as he realized he had been muttering under his breath. His father's face grew dark and Az watched as his jaw tightened so furiously that Azaryne thought the older man might burst a blood vessel.
"You are not a child anymore, Azaryne. And I expect you to stop behaving as such."
Azaryne swallowed hard, fighting to keep himself steady on his feet as the back of his throat began to burn. His father, seeming to understand his surrender, raised a hand to his own forehead and after a moment, quietly spoke.
"I am sending you to Mournhold." He said.
“Ready the sacrifices.” Their leader spoke evenly.
Az couldn't contain a grunt of protest. His father, however, ignored him.
The white haired mer leaned forward, eyes alight with greed as he peered through the bars.
"You will stay at the Redoran kinhouse and do some work there for the Tribunal. Maybe that will put some sense into you. Go home and pack your things."
Az closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind, determined not to give in to terror. He squared his shoulders defiantly, forcing his face blank and willed himself to meet the eyes of his captors. He would not give them the satisfaction of seeing his fear.
“From tonight on,” The necromancer said slowly, “your souls belong to Molag Bal.”