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To Aranias (a fanfic short story)

Note: This is something that popped into my mind after concluding the Greenshade questline of the Aldmeri Dominion. The quests with Aranias with their play on memories raised some questions in my mind that were not addressed afterwards in any way in-game. I pondered how my character would feel about it all. This is the result.


My dear friend Aranias,

I am writing to you in the hopes that you still recognize that name. Yet, I also hope that your changed condition will give you some distance from your past feelings, so that you can calmly face what I will reveal. I truly hope so, because I myself am anything but calm when I think about it.

Do you remember that moment, when you said that you cherished most the memories of me being your friend in your youth? There is no gentle way to tell this, so I cut to the chase: those memories are not strictly true, or more exactly, they are not the whole truth.

In one reality, I never was your friend during your youth on Silatar.

I don't fully know how you saw me in those memories, but in truth I am some decades older than you. When you were a young girl in that isolated place, I myself already had struggled through a youth of petty crime and back-breaking labor in harbours of Auridon and many adult years of dangerous work as an investigator – or more precisely, a spy and an agent for any well-paying party. I never once visited Silatar, had not even heard of it until I met you in Greenshade. We have one thing in common, however – like you, I was long friendless and lonely in my youth.

Now you ask, of course, how is it then possible that you remember our friendship so well and apparently so fondly? Well, I don't know the full technical details of how it was done, but it was by magic. You know of the spinners in Valenwood? I met one of them. At that point both he and I were aware of your true mission, which was to kill the Wilderking and to destroy Greenshade. You had to be stopped.

So this spinner, whom I will not name, did something to me. He transported me to your memories by some trick that I thought only a sort of hypnosis at first. But it was something much more. In some level, it was real. I truly experienced with you the attack on the island, I truly was with you during that party in the garden. But then again, I was not. As I said, in the only reality I had until then known I had been somewhere else, and I still have those other memories fully with me.

And yet, I was also with you. I can remember our race to the lighthouse, the attack, the party and much more. And I remember them like true memories of a true time, not just as an adventure in a spinner-woven vision. In fact, long after the vision dissipated, those memories have even increased. I remember playing with you as children, and many wonderful and sweet days on Silatar. I remember us as two growing girls as close to each other as friends can be at that age.

It is wholly unlike the other bitter reality; like I have lived two parallel lives whose threads were tangled together only when I entered the vision woven by the spinner. And inexplicably, in one of those lives I am twenty-five years younger than in the one I was originally born into. And in that must be some difficulty, since the exact joining points of those lives continues to elude me. The memories of the younger life won't grow past the party in your parents' garden, won't complete the path to the point where I met you in Greenshade – or met again, I maybe should say. My original life seems complete, however, as it always was. Some barrier in between the two realities refuses to yield to so great a difference.

This must sound like the rambling of a lunatic, but I am not crazy. I do not have any other delusions, only these memories of two lives.

It may be an impossibility to explain why that is so, but I will try. There must be more levels to reality and time than just one. Oh, I'm not talking about Aetherius or Oblivion or any other such dimension that all know of. I mean the very fabric of all reality, the stuff of whole cosmos itself. Time is something that is common to all its dimensions. It runs on everywhere and penetrates everything.

But what if there is not only one thread of time running through Aurbis, but several? What if not just actualities, but also possibilities are threads of time, so that they are innumerable? What if the spinners can truly make more than one timeline come to life from the multitude of possibilities, even ones of the past? Even to the point that one person can have had led two very different lives at the same time, and both them are real at least to some degree? The possibility makes my head spin, begging pardon for the pun. And what if such building of another reality involves two persons? Obviously it must affect them both.

That is what I suspect happened to us. For you the spinner's tale had to change much less, ”only” to add me and our friendship to your memories and account for the changes that caused to events. That is why you remember only the life where I was your friend. But to make it all ”real”, the magic had to build another life for me, too. I mean, how could you truly have memories of me, if I never had even met you in any reality? Thus, a new timeline came into being, where our friendship was true. I have to doubt the spinners really understand all the implications of their craft, otherwise that one wouldn't have been so casual about what he did to us.

Also, now I wonder about the extent to which this tampering altered all realities. For instance, did you ever kill that Bosmer in the garden, like you did in the original reality? Were you still a dedicated follower of the Veiled Inheritance, at least for a time? At the very least, I know that Andur did not die in the garden, although I killed him in the spinner's tale. So everything was not altered, but maybe some parts were. This question may seem silly, but you can't imagine how much I have wrestled with it. Can you imagine how it feels to be suddenly shown that the very fabric of reality is not what you thought it was? Have you also felt it, that chilling fear and the sense that everything could rip apart in a flash? We are blind, Aranias, we can't see the tiniest fraction of the true essence of time and reality!

Realising this has caused me anguish, yet also joy. The latter may seem surprising, but it is because this otherwise shattering experience allowed me to meet and to know you.

One thing at least is wholly real, and that is what I feel towards you. I love you as my friend, Aranias. How could I not?

I remember how you smiled in that tower, just before the end of our shared journey. It was a beautiful smile, at the same time so apprehensive and so triumphant. That moment showed me you were ready to face your fate, even though you hesitated. You showed you had courage. You trusted me to stand by your side, even though I didn't deserve it. Or perhaps your trust was deserved, because in the end I truly was there with you when you took your crown and fulfilled your destiny.

Let me be clear: When I came to Greenshade, it was to fulfil my queen's orders by any means necessary. I was not there to help you, because then I hadn't met you in any reality. But after the spinner's tale, and especially after seeing you in the tower in the end, I grew to respect you. You had more in you than you realized, you truly were worthy to be a queen.

I also realized the beauty of your soul after sharing your memories. Silatar is a paradise, and it sprung from you. No truly evil person could create anything like that. No, the soul from which such beauty could pour out can't be anything but gentle and good at the bottom. Whatever you did in the employ of the Veiled Heritance was not truly you, but the result of pressure and deception. That I understand fully, as I myself embraced my recent career not wholly voluntarily. In fact, I think you could have had in you to do the right thing in the end of our adventure even without the spinner's tampering. For that alone you have my respect. I also do believe that the spinner-made memory in the garden in which you refused to kill that poor Bosmer woman was the most true to your soul, whatever happened in the original reality.

You must wonder why I wrote this, when even the chance of angering you risks so much for my country and the whole tottering alliance, and for me personally. The answer is simple. I am tired of lies. They have been my trade for years now, and it is starting to weigh on me. I have misled, lied, killed from shadows and blackmailed too much. And so much of it was in vain, seeing what a disaster the war proved to be in the end. They call me a hero, but in truth I'm only a hired hand for dirty work and have always been. So I ache to tell the truth even once, especially in a matter as important to us both than this. This one truth will give me strength, so that I will not wholly lose myself in falsehoods.

But I must try to end this letter, because the courier is leaving soon. Now you know the truth – that we are sharing a past specially crafted for us two only. Can there be a stronger bond between persons, really? And that past lives with me, your better youth goes on in my memories even when you yourself have forgotten it. Is that not a consoling thought, seeing how you feared the fading of those memories?

Lastly: I am coming on business to Greenshade in the last week of Frostfall, and would like to see you then. We must discuss what I just wrote, and much more, face to face. If you also want to meet me, give me a sign that can't be mistaken. Despite the autumn, let every peach tree in Woodhearth bloom with flowers, like they bloomed in those bygone golden springs on Silatar, when we were young girls full of dreams. When I see that on arriving, I will know that you have forgiven my silence about this and that the Wilderqueen still has something of Aranias in her. Then I will come to you the instant when my duties allow. I look forward to it.

With the love of a friend,

Edited by Tesman85 on March 18, 2021 4:57PM
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