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Collected Snippets of Varanis Arano, Mirri, Bastian, and Marcus Titus Alessian

VaranisArano
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Since Companions were first announced, I've been amusing myself with little snippets of fanfiction about the eccentricities of Mirri, Bastian, and the player characters I paired them with: Varanis Arano and Marcus Titus Alessian. I've enjoyed writing them and I hope those of you who've enjoyed reading them like having them all in one place and in roughly chronological order.

I also have a longer fanfic "The Merry Misadventures of Mirri (and Varanis Arano)" for anyone interested in my take on the Blackwood Chapter. Its currently on hiatus as I write the rest of the quests for Blackwood during NaNoWriMo, but its not dead.
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    Companion Outfits - Please Give Us Helms

    As always, the writ turn-in station at Vivec City is bustling with Crafters dropping off their deliveries as the shouts of Battleground trainers ring through the air nearby. Varanis Arano hands over the last shipment of weapons at the Vivec docks, where they'll be shipped off to support the war effort in Cyrodiil. "Alright, Mirri, I'm done. Time to go adventuring."

    Five Mirri Elendis' look at her, equally expressionless.

    "Er, which one of you is my Mirri Elendis?"
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    will companions litter cities with massive amounts of duplicates?

    "Mother's Sorrow Staves for sale" Hayaia's cry cuts through the bustle of the Mournhold Market. It's packed with shoppers, bankers, merchants, and crafters running to and from the writ turn-in areas. A scamp runs underfoot, flinging mud balls everywhere. At least, Varanis Arano hopes it's mud.

    Razgugul shakes his head and beckons her over to his stall. "A tank like you needs a set of Plague Doctor armor."

    "I've already got one, thanks. I'm looking at gear for Mirri. I should ask her what she likes."

    She pauses. Five Mirri, loitering around the other vendor stalls, look back at her, equally expressionless.

    "Never mind."

    Five minutes later, she's made her purchases. "Mirri, time to go! I had this shipped to Bal Foyen so we need to pick up the delivery."

    Three Mirri look back at her. One of them mutters, "I'm not your Mirri," before trotting off after some Nord.

    There are two more Mirri standing around the wayshrine, taking bets on two duelists showing off for the crowd. Three more appear to be plotting in a corner near the alchemy shop. And there's an abundance of red-haired Imperial mages coming in and out of the City Hall. They all look past her with the blank look of polite non-recognition.

    Finally, Varanis thinks to check the Fighters Guild. Mirri - her Mirri - looks up from where she's been comparing notes with Cardea Gallia. "Hey, Varanis! Is it time to go?"

    "Do you know how long I've been looking for you?!"
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    Can this please be the Standard for Companions?
    Inspired by: PTS plans for Companions to despawn in cities for performance reasons
    "You'll like Vivec City," Varanis confidently predicts as she and Mirri climb down from the Silt Strider station. "It's unfinished, but still a real architectural marvel. Lord Vivec is putting his own power into the foundations."

    "I like solid ground!" Mirri mutters, hugging her stomach and looking distinctly green around the edges.

    As they walk under the archway to the Crafting area, Varanis points upward over the bay to the massive meteor hanging above the three spikes of the temple Canton. "There's Baar Dau. I don't know how people stand living underneath that rock. What do you think?"

    There's no answer. She turns around. Mirri, who normally sticks right at her shoulder, isn't there.

    "Mirri?"

    "Mirri?!"

    She's nowhere to be found in the crowded crafting area, nor is she browsing through the guild merchants' wares.

    "Mirri!"

    Finally, Varanis spots her slouching against one of the wayshrine's pillars outside of town. "What's the matter, Mirri? Are you okay?"

    "I, uh...I don't like cities."
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    Other players' Bastians want to offer me a quest

    Marcus Titus Alessian looks around the crowded Alik'r Dolmen and scratches his chin. It's hot in the desert sunlight, and the blasts of chill air straight from the gloom of Coldharbour would be pleasantly refreshing if they weren't accompanied by falling daedra. Bastian, a redhead, is already sunburnt after twenty minutes of making the rounds.

    "Bastian, is there something you'd like to tell me?" Marcus asked.

    "I'm frying to a crisp out here." The clouds above the dolmen parted as the chains retracted and they both wince as the hot Hammerfell sun slams down like a hammer.

    "Not that. Perhaps something you'd like me to do?"

    "I'd like to not spend the next hour frying to a crisp while running from dolmen to dolmen." Bastian said.

    "Nah, man, I need the combat experience. Come to think of it, so do you. Anyways, you really don't have a quest to offer me?"

    "No. Why do you ask?"

    Martin points to the small horde of Bastian and Mirri flooding towards the nearest wayshrine. "Everyone else's Bastian is trying to offer me a quest. I just figured maybe you were hinting at something."

    "Actually, I changed my mind. I'll offer you a quest to free me from this mind-numbing grind!"

    "Haha, don't push your luck, Bastian, or I'll raise your rapport by grinding water nodes in Shadowfen!"
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    Everytime I come through a wayshrine, Ginger tanks...Ginger tank clones everywhere

    Marcus Titus Alessian takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and begins wading through the crowd of redhaired Imperial men and scowling Dunmer women waiting around the wayshrine.

    "Are you my Bastian?"

    The Bastian he addressed looks back blankly. "No, sir, I'm with a tiny Bosmer lady."

    "Oh, sorry." Two nearby Bastians avoid his gaze. There's a small clump of three Bastians to his left playing rock, paper, scissors. He walks over, "Excuse me."

    All three Bastian throw scissors at the same time. "Darn it, again!" One of them exclaims, then turns to him. "Can I help you?"

    Marcus can tell at a glance that none of the three are "his" Bastian. "Nevermind, gents, carry on your game." They do, all three throwing paper this time.

    He's about to resort to shouting "Bastian!" and thoroughly embarrassing himself when he spots Bastian - his Bastian - skulking on the fringe of the crowd, talking to a tiny Bosmer lady.

    "Your Bastian is back there," Marcus says.

    "Oh, thank goodness," she exclaims. "All these quest markers are so confusing!" She heads into the crowd.

    "You know, Bastian," Marcus says, "We really need a better way for me to find you in a bunch of Bastians. Maybe you should wear a helmet."
    Edited by VaranisArano on November 17, 2021 2:51AM
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    Is Bastion Popular with the Ladies?

    "Wow," Varanis eyes the flock of women surrounding Bastian. Some of the ladies are fancily dressed, some are scantily dressed, some are in full armor. Bastian says something, and they all laugh. It sounds like a flock of birds twittering.

    "Finally, someone immune to his charms!" A dark-haired Imperial man with a beaky nose and short goatee says, and sticks out his hand. "I'm Marcus Titus Alessian. I swear, the only people who talk to me instead of him are the questgivers."

    Varanis shakes his hand. "I know how you feel. Mirri's hiding out at the inn to avoid the attention."

    Marcus looks over at her fiery armor that proudly bears the Pact Dragon and then down at his own Imperial Red Diamond. "Do you think it's our armor? Maybe Legate Black isn't such a chick magnet anymore. I guess I could push for some new dyes during Midyear Mayhem?"

    "I'm pretty sure it's the short, mussed hair."

    "Don't tell me that! Bastian refuses to share his barber!"
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    The fact that I can see other people's companions just completely ruined the game for me.

    An orc with lungs like brass bellows from the Belkarth wayshrine "Looking for damage dealers for Rockgrove!"

    The sound carries all the way to the Belkarth Guild Marketplace, where Marcus Titus Alessian stops to peer at some nirncrux. The merchant offers him a jeweler's loupe to examine the finer grains. "It's guaranteed to make your weapon...potent, sir."

    Behind him, Bastian groans. "Don't encourage him."

    A rider on giant clockwork flea leaps over the first row of wagons, does a pirouette in the middle, then sprints past the second row towards a small red plant. The rider jumps down, rips the plant out of the ground, examines the roots closely for the tiny nodules of nirnroot crystals, curses, shakes the plant out, and then rides off.

    "You left your worms behind," Marcus calls, but the rider is already gone. He shrugs and scoops up the worms. "I've been meaning to fish those motifs up from Summerset."

    He and Bastian continue through the market. It's crowded with traders, bankers - feline and otherwise - and clusters of Bastians and Mirris marked out by their cloud of quest markers.

    "Say, Bastian, I was wondering. Do you ever think it's strange seeing so many other Bastians?"

    "Sir, seeing other Bastians is not remotely the strangest thing I've seen since agreeing to follow you."
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    Does Bastian really not like tea?

    "Cut it out, Bastian," Marcus Titus Alessian says, hands on hips, glaring at Bastian over the kitchen counter, a single bowl and wooden spoon on the counter between them. "Just because I invited you as a guest does not mean I'll put up with being criticized for how I cook in my own home!"

    "Look, I'm just saying it's completely unnatural to make a fruit and cheese platter by only stirring a bowl. And then you didn't even wash your hands before tasting it with your finger!"
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    What does Bastian order at the tavern?
    Inspired by: the grind for Harpooner’s Wading Kilt leads

    Bastian swipes sweat from his brow. Immediately, his forehead beads up in the humid, fetid air of the deep Shadowfen bog. "Here I thought the Alik'r dolmen run was the worst suffering you could inflict on me."

    Marcus Titus Alessian shrugs. "They say that dry heat is better. I was stationed in Blackwood when the Planemeld went down, so I feel right at home." He hasn't moved from his stool for the last two days except to use the small portable chamberpot right next to it. The last time he stepped away for a sponge bath, someone ran into their little camp while Bastian's back was turned and nabbed the nirnroot seedling he's guarding.

    "Seriously, I'm going mad from that dumb plant's singing."

    "You can go back to Stormhold without me if you want."

    You know what? I think I will! I can't wait to stop at the tavern for an ale."

    "Bastian, the last time I took you to a tavern, you ordered milk. The Nord bouncer nearly threw you out."

    "Well..." Bastian splutters, looking around for the path. The swamp is dense and overgrown. All the trees look the same. Across the river, a crocodile sunning itself slides off the bank into the water with a ripple, and then all is still. "On second thought, maybe I'll stay. Someone needs to make sure you don't get eaten out here - they'd never find your body if I left."

    "Thanks. I appreciate the company."
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    COMPANIONS - Gear Upgrading!
    Inspired by: PTS requests that we be allowed to upgrade Companion gear

    Since its been spared the ravages of Three Banners War, Leyawiin is a very fancy city for an itinerant adventurer and Fighters Guild member. Mirri's leather gear is well-worn and scuffed from battle, and she feels like she sticks out like a sore thumb next to Varanis and Eveli.

    One day when Varanis is crafting a set of matching staves, Mirri wistfully says, "Your carvings are so detailed. I'd love a bow that honors the Three."

    Varanis wipes down the ash staff with ruby stain, bringing out the rich crimson color of the wood, then sets it aside to dry. "Sorry, Mirri, your training really doesn't fit with the type of bows I can make. Maybe we'll find one while we're adventuring."

    "But you're a Master Crafter!"

    "Look, I'm sorry, but it would take me a year to research all the traits for your gear, and then it'd be really expensive to improve it to legendary quality. Plus it would really clutter up my Book of Mastered Sets."

    "Are you saying that I wouldn't be worth the effort?!"

    "I'm saying the best I can do is illusion your bow so it looks better."

    "That sucks."

    "Yeah, I'm sorry. I'd craft gear for you if I could."
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    Mirri needs a better hair style. ESO you can do better!

    Amalien slowly rolls her wheelchair around the large pile of luggage, book boxes, and excavation tools. "I think this is everything we need to scry and excavate Saarthal, Varanis. Maybe we'll find some Atmoran artifacts! Though that might be too obvious an explanation..."

    Varanis begins directing the assembled porters to lug everything down to their ship at the Solitude docks. To Amalien, she says, "I'm ready to go once Mirri arrives. I sent her to the apothecary to get something for seasickness."

    The front door of the Antiquarian's Circle bangs open. Varanis begins to scold, then shuts up as Mirri marches in, and wags her finger in her face. "Do you know that your fetching apothecary sells hair care products made with torchbug parts?"

    "Er, no. I had no idea, I swear."

    Amalien peers up at Mirri's furious scowl. "I take it this is a bad thing."

    "It's awful! Torchbugs are so pretty and all these people do is tear them apart and smash them up for potion ingredients."

    Varanis sighs, "Did you at least get the seasickness cure from her first?"

    "Oops? I'm sorry. I got so angry I called her a s’wit. And she's a fellow Dunmer, so she called me a fetching guar whose hairstyle is so plain that I ought to shave it all off and start over!"

    "I wouldn't shave it off." Varanis said. "But you have to admit that a braid is pretty basic. You really don't want to change things up?"

    "Oh, shut up. I never see you with anything other than that side bun."

    "That's because it fits well under helmets...which you refuse to wear. What's your excuse?"

    "I like my hair and I don't want to change it!"

    Amalien clears her throat and points to where the porters are hauling out the last of the boxes. "Do we need to get a seasickness cure before we leave, soon?"

    "Mirri, if you'll escort Amalien down to the docks, I'll go beg for your seasickness cure."

    "Just make sure there are no torchbug or butterfly parts in it!"
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    Does anyone like Companions?

    Marcus Titus Alessian takes his bowl of Bewitched Sugar Skulls cereal over to the inn's table where Bastian sits, drinking milk and reading the day's edition of The Black Horse Courier.

    Bastian nods in greeting, then asks, "How are your teeth not rotted through from eating that stuff every morning?"

    "Must be magic." Marcus says. "Anything interesting in the paper?"

    Bastian goes quiet. Then he turns to the opinion section. The headline reads, "Does anyone like Companions?"

    Marcus considers the question seriously, then realizes that Bastian's mournful eyes make him look too much like a kicked puppy.

    So he says, "After the days I made you spend doing the Alik’r Dolmen run and then hunting for those stupid tide glass beads in Shadowfen, I feel like I should be asking if you still like me."

    Immediately, Bastian brightens up. "Yeah! Though if you want to do me a favor..."

    It can't be that bad, can it?

    "Alvur Baren from the Mages Guild wants me to hunt down some of Sheogorath's relics."

    Marcus nearly chokes on a sugar skull. As he coughs, Bastian continues quickly, clearly anxious, "I was scared to go after them in Sanguine's Demense on my own, but you can handle yourself. Will you help me?"

    The very last thing Marcus wants to do is return to Shadowfen, run around collecting Sheogorath's lost buttons, or risk getting turned into Wabbajerky. But Bastian has been a very faithful companion, as well as being a complete lightweight around any type of hard liquor. He can't very well let Bastian walk into Sanguine's eternal frat house party alone.

    "Uh, sure. What are we looking for?"

    "The Eidar Scrolls. Like the Elder Scrolls, but made of cheese."

    "I don't need to be a Moth Priest to see that this is going to be an interesting trip. Heh, "trip.""

    Bastian glowers with disapproval. "The way you chug potions and eat questionable substances, maybe I shouldn't bring you along."

    "Don't worry about it, Bastian. Whatever they say in the Courier, I appreciate someone keeping me on the straight and narrow."
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    Rapport unfair to members of Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood
    Featuring my Master Thief and Silencer Maria Montclair

    Silencer Maria Montclair, a short, sour-faced Breton woman in armor marked with the Black Hand strides into the Undaunted office in Wayrest "Do you have a Companion who'll accompany an assassin?"

    Nearby, a troll roars and bangs the bars of its cage at two duelists fighting in front of it. Maj al-Ragath shakes her head as though she didn't quite understand. "Excuse me?"

    "I need a companion to accompany me on my adventures, but Bastian is a goody two shoes and Mirri disapproves of me joining the Dark Brotherhood instead of her precious "legal" Morag Tong. You folks are good at killing. I'm good at killing. It's a natural partnership, right?"

    "Er, look, can I interest you in taking a damage dealer position instead? I'll warn you the queue is a bit long."

    "Nah, why do you think I want a tank who's not afraid to cut some throats as well as bash some skulls? Oh well, I'll look elsewhere."

    ................

    It's a lovely day in Artaeum as it always is. Maria blends into the crowds of Antiquarians running to and from dig sites, emerging at the Tower with her pockets full of goodies. Inside, she swipes a few more small valuables on the way to see Loremaster Celarus. "Hey, can I borrow Josejah and the Augur of the Obscure for a bit?"

    He glowers. "Absolutely not. In fact, after Sotha Sil's research notes appeared on the black market after the last time you visited, I should ask the Ritemaster to banish you from the Order."

    "Aww, that's no way to treat the woman who murdered her way through Nocturnal's plot, now is it?"

    "Such overt violence is not the Psijic Way."

    "Well, darn it. There goes my chance at getting a Psijic Companion."

    ..................

    In the Dragonguard headquarters, Sai Sahan stares down at her. "Absolutely not."

    "No? I just want to borrow one of your Dragonguard. They're really good at killing."

    "The last time I adventured with you, you sacrificed me to Akatosh and laughed about hurting Lyris' feelings. Now go away."

    "Aww, but no one wants to work with me. I'm all alone!"

    "I wonder why that is."

    .......................

    "Fennorian? Adusa? Either of you want to adventure with me?"

    "You do realize the Ravenwatch is trying to save the mortals, not kill them, right?"

    *sighs*

    ........................

    Maria studies her final three candidates. One is a Breton Worm Cultist who swears he was high in Mannimarco's good graces, but frankly is a novice necromancer at best. The next is a wild Reach Witch who doesn't care who Maria kills as long as she gets to kill some of the oppressor Nords. Finally, there's the Argonian, Remains-Silent the Bequeather.

    In the end, it's a simple decision to pick her Dark Sister. "At least I don't have to listen to you criticize my technique!"

    Remains-Silent nods knowingly.
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    Bastian doesn't like fighting some NPCs??

    Marcus Titus Alessian looks down at the crispy centipede lying at the feet of the now dead giant. He'd neatly bisected it instead of the giant with an overhead swing of Dawnbreaker. Now the centipede's two cauterized ends curl towards each other, and the air smells faintly of smoke.

    "Rest in pieces, little ultimate-waster."

    Bastian wraps up the giant's big toes he's just finished cutting off, then looking at the dead centipede, says with some disdain, "You're going to eat that, right?"

    For a long moment, Marcus considers rehashing the whole conversation about "You DO realize I don't mean to unleash Meridia's smiting sword of undead smiting on a lowly rat, right?" But he's already done that, and it hasn't made a difference. So instead he squats down, takes out an empty potion bottle, and as he sweeps the centipede's remains inside, he makes sure to look Bastian in the eye. "Actually, there's a recipe I've been wanting to try."

    "You're joking."

    "Makes-Many-Soups says that flies in the soup only add to the flavor."

    ..................

    That evening in their small camp in the foothills of Orsinium, Marcus makes Lava Foot Soup-and-Saltrice. The potato and saltrice is exactly the sort of meal that will stick to his ribs in the chilly air. Bastian's been drooling over it.

    Then he pulls out "The Secret Ingredient!" Their travels hunting for treasure in the mountains have shaken the burnt centipede into fine black flakes, exactly what he needs.

    Bastian looks at him in dawning horror. "I thought you were joking. You're going to eat that?"

    "Of course."

    Bastian looks away, a little green around the gills. Marcus quickly empties the bottle onto the campfire and dumps a hefty sprinkle of pepper flakes onto the soup instead.

    Once the soup is finished, Marcus digs into his bowl with gusto. Bastian tries it tentatively, then eats, picking out any visible black flecks.

    Finally, Bastian says, "It's not as bad as I expected."

    "It was just pepper. If I wanted to taste insect parts, I'd drink Dubious Camoran Throne."

    "I, uh...I knew you were joking all along!"
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    ZOS, Please Tell Marri Torchbug Thoraxes and Butterfly Wings only come from bugs!

    Kragh the Dreugh King lies dead in a heap of giant shellfish legs, surrounded by his horde of once-menacing mudcrabs. Varanis Arano is getting the polite brush off from the Mephalan Spider Cultists who hired the Undaunted team to clear the grotto out. Marcus Titus Alessian sits near the pile of mudcrabs with a nutcracker, picking through the shells for potion-quality chitin. Mirri and Bastian stand together, scowling at the other two.

    "Can you believe she uses potions made from butterfly wings and torchbugs? I caught her glowing-handed, fingertips stained with bug guts. She didn't even look guilty!"

    "Oh, I believe it. The first time I went on a dolmen run with Marcus, he singlehandedly slaughtered a herd of goats for their guts saying he needed to fish and left their carcasses to rot in the sun."

    "That's horrid!"

    With particular relish, Bastian adds, "He kills rats too, and doesn't even eat them."

    After an awkward pause, Mirri asks, "Do you really want Marcus to eat the rats? That's gross."

    "It's the principle of the thing. If you aren't going to eat it, you shouldn't kill it." Now, it's Bastian's turn to pause. "I guess technically Varanis does drink the bugs she kills."

    Scowling at him too, Mirri stomps off to her own corner.

    Marcus finishes his pile, tossing down the last cracked crab claw. "Alright, I'm done looting this place."

    Varanis asks, "Did everyone turn their quest in so we can go?"

    Mirri says, "Yes, now let's go before Varanis Arano the Bug-squasher kills another spider for her potions."

    As one, the Mephalan cultists turn to look at them. Gamyne Bandu draws her swords. Vila Theran snarls, "Kill them!"

    "Oh, Mirri, now you've done it!"
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    Companions talk too much - pls, adjust "infrequent" option

    The group of Worm Cultists worshipping the Dark Anchor as it rips the sky of Tamriel open are caught by surprise as fiery chains lash out and whisk their Mages Guild captive back to safety.

    The cultists grab their weapons to meet Varanis and Mirri charging up the hill towards the dolmen.

    "There's trouble brewing here. Stay alert!" Mirri shouts.

    The fight rages as the anchor chains fall, shaking the ground as they pull tight and start slowly winching Nirn up into Oblivion. Varanis flame whips the last cultist down. "You don't say."

    "I like to think I'm agreeable."

    Blue cold-fireballs drop from the anchor ring above, plummeting towards them. Where they land, daedra blossom from the smoke.

    "All right, but don't cry for mommy," Mirri declares as she engages the nearest Xivkyn.

    "Do daedra even have mothers?" Varanis wonders. "I'll ask Lyranth later."

    Mirri is dueling a daeroth when a clannfear leaps across the battlefield and takes a nasty bite out of her shoulder. "Ow, that fetching smarts!"

    Varanis bats a cauterizing fireball at her in between trading blows with a Harvester.

    "That's much better! Don't suppose you'll work this knot out of my shoulder while you're at it?"

    "Later, Mirri!"

    As they close the anchors, the portal rumbles ominously. A great glob of coldfire gathers as Molag Bal muses, "Whatever happened to that Prophet fellow? Did his sacrifice really mean anything in the end? Sai Sahan and Titanborn's didn't."

    A daedroth bursts from the portal, plummeting towards the ground. Mirri grimly draws her daggers. "This is going to be a fight. Let's not make it our last."

    "I've handled loads worse than a dolmen boss, you know."

    When it's all over, Molag Bal is grumbling about flying skin-banners and Varanis kicks open the dolmen chest.

    "Finders keepers, as they say." After a pause, Mirri adds, "You know, I like to think I'm agreeable.

    "You know, I'm thinking I've got to do two more dolmens for your Fighters Guild daily. Would you mind - I dunno - talking less?"

    Mirri stares coldly at her. "What did you fetching say?"

    "I'm used to fighting alone. It's nice having someone who's handy with a dagger around, but the constant chatter is a little much."

    "That's it. I'm fetching leaving, you fetcher!"

    Mirri stomps off towards the nearest wayshrine. Varanis sighs, then settles in to wait for the next group of cultists to show up. "I didn't want her to leave. All I wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet!"
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    Would your character romance the companions?
    Neither Varanis nor Marcus are interested in romancing their companions, but during a Mages Guild daily, a funny thing happened on the way to the forums...

    Marcus Titus Alessian barges into the Wayrest Mages Guild with Bastian at his heels and a small animal's cage tucked under his arm. He marches over to Alvur Baren and holds it out. "You take it!"

    Inside is a rat, furiously gnawing at anything it can get its teeth into. "Ah, the Ravenous Rodent!" Alvur says, taking it. "It's good that you didn't let Sheogorath's pet out of its cage, no matter how much it lied."

    "Of course not! It said it was going to eat the server hamsters if I did."

    "I, er, don't understand. Are you sure hunting Sheogorath's relics isn't taking its toll on you?"

    "Ugh, maybe. I could ask Valaste what she thinks." Marcus turns to look for her. "Valaste? Oh."

    She may have come up from the basement to greet him, but now she's staring soulfully into Bastian's eyes, and Bastian into hers.

    "It occurs to me," Bastian says, "That love and magic have a lot in common. They both delight your heart and enrich your soul. And both can be dangerous to beginners." He's blushing the way only a natural redhead can.

    Valaste, her gaze and smile on him, not the pages of her beloved book, replies, "We're lucky to have you, adept. I'm no battlemage."

    Marcus looks at Alvur. "Is that what I think it is?"

    Alvur murmurs back, "If you ruin it for them, I'll get Shalidor to haunt you for the rest of your days."

    So Marcus claps Bastian on the shoulder instead. "Hey, man, I need to do some shopping at the guild traders. What do you say we spend a couple extra days in Wayrest? I'm sure that Valaste will be happy to, ahem, show you all the new books she's acquired for the Guild house here."

    Valaste beams. It takes Bastian a moment, then he favors Marcus with a bright, happy grin. "Thanks."

    "Have fun, you two. Oh, Valaste? I promise he's a great guy, but he doesn't like cheese."

    Bastian sputters, but Valaste smiles brighter. "I knew I liked him!"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    An Abundance of Stibbons - Inspired by companions?

    Marcus Titus Alessian wipes the goo from an exploded Stibbo off his face, then out of his goatee. "Gross." Then he stares suspiciously at Bastian. "You aren't made out of goo, are you?"

    "Of course not! Why would you say that?"

    "Oh, I dunno. You absolutely sure there isn't an ancient Argonian Xanmeer pumping out Bastian clones to clog up the wayshrines and swarm the land?"

    "There's not." Bastian scratches his head. "Though if there was, I'm a little insulted that you think more of me would be a bad thing."

    ..................

    "Stibbo stay here!"

    "Stibbo come!"

    "Stibbo stay here."

    "Stibbo come."

    "Dear divines, Stibbo, just stand on the pressure plate. Not near the pressure plate. Not next to the pressure plate. ON the pressure plate. Now try again."

    "Stibbo stay here."

    "Argh! Bastian, get over here and stand on the pressure plate."

    "Sorry, Marcus. I can't do that."

    Marcus' hair sticks out at odd angles from the drying goo, and his voice has taken on the dangerous edge of a man at the edge of his limits. "Whyever not?"

    "Everyone knows that the arcane density of semi-sentient plasmic substances is greater than that of the average human mage."

    Marcus grits his teeth. "Speak plain Tamrielic, please."

    "I'm not made of goo."

    "Dear divines." Marcus heaves a sigh. "Fine. Bastian, I'm sorry I made fun of you and your clones. You aren't made of goo. Now will you please stand on this pressure plate?"

    "I can't. Sorry."

    "Whyever not?!"

    "Because if I agree to stand on a pressure plate once, you'll make me run Direfrost Keep over and over again!"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Bastian has some serious food issues.

    Marcus Titus Alessian sprinkles a pinch of cayenne over the bubbling cheddar smothering a fried potato hash that's been a favorite of his ever since he made fifty of the Port Hunding speciality to level his provisioning. Then he takes the plate back to their table at the inn where the adventuring party of four has settled after their disastrous job in Fungal Grotto. The smell of hot cheese wafts across the table.

    Bastian turns a little green.

    "That smells amazing," Mirri says, toasting him with a glass of red. "Varanis, why do you never cook for me?"

    "I buy you wine instead," Varanis says, takes a spoonful of her Bewitched Sugar Skulls, then leans over to inspect his plate. "Isn't that a green quality, level 15 food?"

    Marcus takes a bite, relishing the crisp potato crunch. "Yeah, but it's so good!"

    Bastian grumbles, then grabs his bowl of corn chowder and carries it to the table behind them so that the ladies block his view of the offending cheese.

    Mirri turns in her seat, "Bastian, you have serious food problems."

    "At least I'm not a drunk."

    "I'm not a drunk! I'm an oenophile. Means I like the taste of wine."

    "I'm lactose intolerant, okay? Cheese does terrible things to my digestion. Then there's Marcus having a foodgasm over there with his cheesy fries. Sometimes I just can't stand the guy, you know?"

    His mouth full of hot, cheesy, fried potatoey goodness, Marcus mumbles, "Sorry; not sorry."

    "See?!"

    Mirri shakes her head. "You've still got food issues, Bastian. Who thinks it's okay to eat dungeon rats?"

    Varanis brightens up. "Hey, I know a blue quality CP 10 recipe for Goblin-style grilled rat!"

    "On second thought, maybe I don't want her to cook for me."
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Bastian's Appearance Changed?
    Inspired by: a PTS bug with Bastian's appearance

    Marcus Titus Alessian lowers his copy of the Black Horse Courier, carefully studying his companion's face. "I still can't believe you let Quistley persuade you to shave off the stubble. Of course," he adds, stroking his own goatee, "I'm biased in favor of facial hair."

    Bastian nervously rubs his clean-shaven chin. "What did the Devs say?"

    "They like you scruffy. So you can quit wearing out my razor."

    As Bastian sighs with relief, Marcus continues, "Also, tide-glass beads can be found in any alchemy node in Shadowfen now."

    "Thank the Divines. I still hear nirnroot singing in my sleep!"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Whose odds does Mirri not like?
    Inspired by: some issues with the Elsweyr Event world boss dailies

    It's a sunny day in Southern Elsweyr as Varanis Arano and Mirri ride up to training grounds where the Goutfang Pariah Ri'Atahrashi and his students live.

    Mirri eyes the Pahmar-raht martial master with disdain. "I really don't like your odds."

    Varanis scans the crowd of allies waiting to fight him with more trepidation. "I dunno, Mirri. You have to know the mechanics for this one."

    "You're the Vestige. You can handle it!"

    Five fiery deaths later, Mirri grumbles, "That was awful," as she stores the loot in Varanis's pack.

    "I did warn you."

    "Dunmer fire resistance didn't help at all! So unfair. Anyways, whatever's next can't be so bad, right?"

    Varanis checks her journal. "Goutfang stole some rice. We need to recover at least 3 sacks."

    Their allies in the fight have now invaded the training camp, turning over every crate and bedroll, shaking out every bag. An Imperial man shouts in triumph, holding aloft a sack as he sprints for the nearest wayshrine. A bosmer woman pursues him, shaking her fist. Two redguards begin dueling over another sack of rice, unaware that a particularly shifty-eyed Khajiit is deftly switching it out with a bag full of moonsugar - normally more valuable, but right now, rice is clearly the premium good.

    Mirri squares her shoulders. "I really don't like your odds," she announces as she marches over to the nearest Mirri and engages in a staring contest over a conspicuously empty spot that might have once held a bag of rice, and might yet again if they wish hard enough.

    "I really don't like your odds," the other Mirri retorts.

    Varanis sighs, then calls out, "Anyone want to group up? We can share the credit for the rice!"

    Everyone is too busy searching, squabbling, or making unwise bargains with Clavicus Vile for rice to pay any attention to her. She takes a seat next to another conspicuously empty spot and wonders to herself. "Do you think Bruccius would know the difference if I just bought a couple stacks of rice from a guild trader?"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    We have Mirri and Bastian.......but we need a third one...

    A dragon roars above the Mournhold Undaunted Tents, banking its wings for another wide swooping loop above the city. Marcus Titus Alessian raises one eyebrow at Varanis Arano, "Can you believe it? Dragons in your own homeland! What are you going to do?"

    "I'm going to kill it. Let's go!"

    Mirri, scowling with her arms folded, does not follow. Instead, Bastian presents Varanis with a neatly written scroll. "Our demands."

    "Your demands?" Marcus peers over her shoulder. "What are we making demands for?"

    Mirri answers, "We heard they were talking about a third Companion and figured you two need some ground rules for how to behave."

    Varanis reads, "Don't call your Companion "stupid-", and closes the scroll. "Mirri, if you didn't stand in the red circles and die, I wouldn't call you out for it!"

    Marcus takes the scroll from her and reads, "If you have a problem with us, just say it."

    "I wouldn't have a problem, sera, if you weren't constantly in my way all the time," Varanis tells Mirri. "Let's not even talk about the way you dodge roll and reset world bosses."

    Bastian says, "Don't forget about getting us better gear, Marcus. I'm stuck in this junk you bought from a vendor while you swan about in legendary armor. We're fighting the same enemies. It's just not fair, you know?"

    "Man, if I could craft you gold quality armor, I would! It's not like I can just reconstruct the right traits from the stickerbook either."

    The rest of the list is a series of grievances. Mirri wants future companions to have more breaks to sample the local fare. "It's not fair, I'm famished while she chows down every two hours!"

    Bastian feels very let down that he only has tasks from one guild, "Mirri gets to do two tasks! I want to help out the Psijic Order too, not just the Mages Guild. Any third Companion has the right to more than one side job besides following you guys around, you know?"

    "That's actually pretty reasonable," Marcus tells Varanis.

    "Sure, I could agree to some of their points. But the one about never asking future Companions to wear helmets? That's just ridiculous!"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Bastian is the new Stuga...
    Inspired by: repetitive companion dialogue

    Marcus Titus Alessian and Bastian arrive at the Rimmen Wayshrine, lugging crates of dragon-hunting gear. "Crud, we're too far from the nearest Dragon Scour," Marcus says, consulting his map. "I don't know a closer wayshrine. We'll have to ride."

    "That's fine," Bastian says, "Cities are as alive, fickle, and uncertain as people. Some are good; some are bad. Some give you gifts; others rob you blind."

    "I'm pretty sure that's racist against khajiit. But keep an eye on your purse anyways."

    .........

    As their ship ties off at the dock in Anvil, Marcus takes a deep breath of briny air. "The smell of home!" Then he catches a whiff of a certain rotten scent. Wrinkling his nose, he asks, "Are those bodies?"

    Sure enough, along the seashore and amongst the dock workers going about their labor are a number of dead bodies that were sliced, diced, and stabbed then left to bake in the sun. Mostly the workers ignored them, but occasionally a body slips over the edge where it's set upon by a horde of waiting slaughterfish and mudcrabs.

    Bastian observes, "Cities are as alive, fickle, and uncertain as people. Some are good; some are bad. Some give you gifts; others rob you blind."

    "Anvil wasn't a bad city when I was growing up here! It's the fault of the Dark Brotherhood and their awful initiation rite." Marcus grimaces, "Man, now I can't even eat my favorite Gold Coast Mudcrab Fries without feeling like I'm eating partially-digested people."

    .........

    When they arrive at Daggerfall, Marcus steps out of the Wayshrine, then holds up a hand in front of Bastian. "Don't say it."

    "What?"

    Mimicking Bastian's tone, Marcus parrots, "Cities are as alive, fickle, and uncertain as people. Some are good; some are bad. Some give you gifts; others rob you blind." Then he adds, "I'd rather hear what you think. What do you really think about Daggerfall?"

    "You know that guy here who keeps saying he owes you an ale for saving King Casimir? Let's go ask him for it."

    ""Gives gifts" it is, then!"

    ........

    The next time they arrive in Rimmen, Bastian says, "Whether it's desperate commoners or the greedy soldiers, this city will rob you blind if you don't keep an eye on your purse."

    "It's much less racist when you say it that way." Marcus agrees. "Plus, I appreciate hearing what you actually think of the city."
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    PLEASE LET US SET OUR COMPANION MOUNT TO THE TOY HORSE
    Inspired by: running around Craglorn for the Year One Celebration event

    Bastian stares at the toy hobby-horse that Marcus Titus Alessian holds out. "You're joking."

    "Nope. You keep saying "Right behind you, partner." I want to test that out. Now keep up, I've got dailies in Craglorn to do."

    Even though Marcus hits rapids as soon as they leave Belkarth, Bastian is quickly left behind. Every so often, Marcus loops around shouting encouragement.

    "It's do or die! Use a stamina potion!"

    "You're exhausted. Pace yourself!"

    Arriving at the Skyreach Wayshrine to find Marcus as fresh as a daisy atop his horse, Bastian pants, "I hate you."

    "Could be worse, man. I could ask you to help me get the event ticket from Imperial City."
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Why cant Companions carry their own items? and other quality of life things you want

    Marcus Titus Alessian pokes through Mad Urkazbur's hoard wrinkling his nose every time the icy wind off of Wrothgar's slopes carries the smell of rancid meat and ogre body odor with it.

    "Hey!" Bastian exclaims, holding up a pair of boots in surprisingly good condition considering the likely fate of their previous owners. "Blue quality, quickened trait..." He strips off his left boot and tries the new one on, "It even fits! So much better than that white quality vendor trash that you bought for me."

    They quickly gather the scholar's lost notes and the loose coin from the hoard. Then, as Marcus bundles it all together for his pack, Bastian tosses his old pair of boots into the pile. "I might want it later."

    "If you want to keep it, you carry it." Marcus says. "You've got a backpack."

    Bastian glances over one shoulder, then the other, at his conspicuously backpack-less backside. "You said you didn't want to buy the Antiquitarian's Field Garb for me. Or the Dungeon Explorer or the Treasure Hunter's armor, even though that's basically how you make your living."

    "I didn't buy those because they'd get in the way of your shield, Mr. Sword&Board Man. Anyways, you've got a horse. Stick it in your saddlebags."

    "My horse? Right, I've been meaning to talk about negotiating for an increase in pay, Marcus. If I'm going to start paying 200 gold a day so the stablemaster can train my horse to carry more loot home, I'm going to need you to chip in."

    Marcus slowly begins to nod. "That's fair. When I was a new adventurer, I was constantly strapped for inventory space too. Good backpacks and spacious saddlebags cost a pretty penny. I can chip in." Packing the boots away, he adds, "One question though - "

    Bastian cuts him off. "If it's about wearing a helmet? Absolutely not gonna happen." Smirking, he runs his fingers through his red hair, mussing it further. "I'm not sharing my barber either."

    "Darn. Okay, then how much will it cost to get you to stand on pressure plates? Even Stibbo can do that!"
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Fake puzzles in quests
    Inspired by: how I solved the "puzzles" in Blackwood's quest "A Hidden Vault" and the Elsweyr Prologue

    Varanis Arano, Mirri, and Eveli stand outside of the towering, gleaming bulk of the doomvault.

    Eveli says, "Look, I think the symbols on those red cubes match the book! Maybe if we make the symbols match on the cubes the doomvault doors will open."

    Mirri checks the symbols. "You're right! Eveli, read us the symbols."

    Eveli reads out, "Well, the first one looks like a squiggly tree, and-"

    The doomvault doors grind open as Varanis dusts off her hands, looking pleased with herself.

    "How did you do that?" Mirri asks, pouting a little. "I'm supposed to be the daedrologist."

    "Oh, I just poked the cubes until they did something."

    "That's it?" Eveli packs up the Mysterium Xarxes, sounding disappointed. "We didn't even need the book."

    "Yep. That's pretty much the secret to adventuring right there: poke it until something happens. Or look on the wall. You'd be surprised how many ancient Khajiiti temples hid the answer to their riddles in plain sight on their wall."
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Official Discussion Thread for "Crown Store Showcase—November 2021"
    Inspired by: ZOS finally releases the previously NPC-only Short Mussed Wave hairstyle.

    Marcus Titus Alessian pumps his fist in the air. "Finally!"

    He points across the Wayrest Square where Pacrooti sits, hawking his fanciful painted crates, and the crown-topped billboard behind him featuring three mannequins. "Hah, hah, Bastian, you said they'd never do it. You said your Barber would take that secret to the grave!"

    Bastian sighs, running his hand through his short, mussed, wavy hair. "That's a hell of a way to tell me you took out a Black Sacrament on my Barber, Marcus."

    "Huh?"

    He continues, "And then you freed the necromancer Mannimarco just so he'd owe you a favor."

    "That's not why I freed the jerk."

    "A favor you then cashed in so he would raise my Barber from the dead, thus freeing him from his oath of secrecy." Basian's gaze is immeasurably disappointed. "I thought better of you."

    "I didn't -" Marcus protests, and then Bastian starts laughing at him.

    "Laugh all you want," he mutters. "Because I didn't, but I'm pretty sure Varanis is gonna pay for a Morag Tong writ if Veya's hairdresser doesn't cooperate."
  • VaranisArano
    VaranisArano
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    Mirri's Bug Issue Gone?
    Inspired by @moleculardrugs comment:

    Would be nice if there was a quest where MIrri has to fight a giant man-eating Torchbug and she ends up finding it okay to kill them, or a quest where a Goblin helps her and she no longer hates Goblins. Because honestly, not all Goblins in the game are bad and I find that some NPCs hatred of them is borderline racism.

    Mirri and Varanis Arano arrive at the Wayshrine in Fell's Run. Fireflies dance around the shrine in a cloud while more drift down to the river in a flashing mating dance.

    "They're beautiful!" Mirri squeals.

    Mirri remains utterly enchanted with the swarm even when it gets too thick to speak without swallowing one. They get to the village inn and find the screen door and windows absolutely plastered with glowing bug guts. Varanis asks, "Can I at least scrape those off for potions?"

    "You're horrid." She sees a poster and reads "Fell's Run Firefly Fetching Contest: collect bug guts for prizes. You're all horrid!"

    The innkeeper is worried and very relieved to see two hardened adventurers. "People have gone missing."

    Mirri says, "Maybe you should've left those pretty fireflies alone."

    "Bloodfiends? Wolves?" Varanis asks.

    "We don't know what to make of the tracks."

    They head back out into the swarm, pulling scarves over their mouths this time like it was a Vvardenfell ash storm. The tracks are indeed odd: two rows of three indents in the river bank, and each set is a hop, skip, and jump away from the previous.

    "Some sort of insect," Mirri theorizes. "I didn't think nix-ox lived out in Rivenspire."

    "Whatever it is, it can fly."

    They follow the tracks to a screen of trees, from which an eerie, eldritch glow enamates, flickering wildly. "A magic-using insect?" Varanis wonders. "Now I've seen everything there is to see."

    Mirri peeks through the trees, turns the color of ash, and sinks back down against a tree trunk. "I didn't know they could be carnivorous. I...I can't. You'll have to kill it."

    Worried about her friend, Varanis takes the next look. A torchbug the size of a mammoth has made its lair in the clearing. The bones of its victims are scattered around. It's swollen abdomen pulses with flashing light.

    She hauls Mirri to her feet. "Come on, you can do it. Think about all the Detect pots we'll make from it."

    "Varanis, I can't. It's too cute to kill!"

    "It's a murderer. Besides, we'll probably get first prize in the contest."

    It's a long, hard battle even for an archer and a dragonknight, and it's dusk by the time they head back down the village. At least they don't have any trouble finding their way.

    The innkeeper meets them at the door. Varanis announces, "We killed it. If you need to bury the bodies, they're back there."

    "Where?" The innkeeper asks. Then he looks over their shoulder to where their glowing footprints light up the road and trail back from the forest. "Right, I'll draw up a bath."

    "Please do," Mirri says. Her hair is absolutely plastered to her scalp with luminescent guts and two torchbugs are trying to mate in her ear. "I feel horrid."
  • Ilsabet
    Ilsabet
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    Yay, you made the compilation. :D

    I definitely missed a bunch of these the first time around, so it's good to be able to catch up. These are fun.
    Ilsabet Menard - DC Breton Nightblade archer
    Katarin Auclair - DC Breton Warden healer & ice mage
    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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