Quest 4: Two Sides Of The Same Septim
Loading Screen… Modern day Tamriel reverse-engineered Dwemer-tech in the Third Era to revolutionize the way the world worked in an abundance and breakthrough in technological and magical advancement, allowing for society to evolve in a more advanced yet nuanced way…
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Presently, the morning after, Krest was back inside the dreadful real-world, clamouring his way through the age-old athenaeum. The shelves full of books swayed like waves, golden linings separating the stacks and each manuscript looking as pristine as the next. Scrolling past an array of titles he’d read already. One caught him and he flicked it open.
Lorkhan and Konahrik, by Yvonne Bienne of the Synod
In the mythic days of creation, the hero-god of men; Shor, better known as Lorkhan, waged war against Akatosh Bormahu, god of elves, known also as Auriel. It is recollected by many scholars that Lorkhan was eventually defeated and killed, and his heart sundered from him. But what is not known as well by the masses is what occurred in the last battle before Akatosh caught Lorkhan. What exactly led to Lorkhan’s defeat.
In Skyrim, in one of the olden settlements before there were monsters or gut-crushing storms, Lorkhan lived with his wives and children (the proto-nords or aldafathir; ancestors of men). The war with Akatosh had gone on for some time with casualties and prisoners of war on both sides. The notable amongst this was Akatosh’s wife, Mara, who was kidnapped and raped by Lorkhan. Similarly can be said for Dibella, who was originally the god Magnus’ spouse but coercively remarried to Lorkhan once Magnus became known as the demon-prince Mehrunes Dagon and fled into Oblivion.
It was on one of these days that a massive dragon of ghostly make and ebony complexion appeared from seemingly nowhere, casting hellfire and skewering soldiers. This unique wyrm which appeared oddly human in its bipedal and hand-movements had an almost undead look to it, the most definitive features being the long, jagged tusks that protruded from beneath its maw like cutlasses. It came to be known as Konahrik in Nordic lore. Which translates to warlord in the dragon language. Unrelated to Akatosh or Alduin, this mysterious drake decimated Lorkhan’s army and had gone undetected at the border-gates, committing genocide on all of Lorkhan’s soldiers, sending Skyrim into a perpetual ice-age and unleashing hoards of monsters on the mountain-encircled land, nearly killing Lorkhan before it was banished to where it had originated from. But the work had been done, Akatosh and his forces arrived shortly afterwards and collected Lorkhan for trial at the Adamantine tower, burying the dead and healing the injured. One thing of note however is that it is stated that a mysterious individual warned the inhabitants of the village beforehand to evacuate the children and civilians who were not fighters… which is most intriguing since it may suggest others may have been working in tandem with the beast or that it possessed an intelligence of its own, possibly even with the option to transform into a Dragon like Akatosh?
Over millennia, debates as to whether Konahrik was sent by Akatosh or not have erupted. Akatosh thought to never stoop to dirty underhanded tactics. It is unsure if he was involved or not. It is unclear who Konahrik is or where he came from. Reports have even said Akatosh himself doesn’t know. Although, most interestingly, Akatosh achieved the ability to transmute into a dragon after this event. Akatosh also crafted a mask named Konahrik, after the real Konahrik, which gave him and any who wore it the ability to shapeshift into a dragon. Though it is said only Akatosh and Dragonborn can turn into dragons without dying afterwards. Mortals have worn the mask and after altering into a dragon and back have died within a few minutes due to the taxing nature of such a change out of one’s natural form without the propre soul requirement.
Lastly, a short poetic verse was discovered in the late Third era in the wilds of Skyrim denoting the rivalry between Konahrik and Lorkhan. It reads as so, The Heroic Villain & The Villainous Hero.
Beware, the Konahrik comes, a good villain; a ploy to the evil hero, Lorkhan. For villains are the true heroes and heroes are the true villains. The forgotten and the weak shall be rewarded whilst the dominating and tyrannical will be damned. Beware! The Konahrik comes!
Krest chewed on his thoughts, inserting the book back in its spot and filling a glass of water on the side table, downing it and cracking open another textbook. Feeling the surge of liquid travel down his esophagus. This volume was newly released and updated.
History Summarized (Sixth Edition), By Matthew Motre
In this short summary, I will attempt to paraphrase the major focal points of history on Nirn as well as extrapolating on the events in the current era.
Dawn Era – The world is created by the gods through big bangs and supernovas. Lorkhan Shor, embodiment of chaos tricked the other Divines into making the material world, forcing them to surrender their power in order to complete the mortal realm. War between Akatosh, embodiment of order and his twin brother, Lorkhan breaks out. A mysterious dragon known as Konahrik attacks Lorkhan and defeats his army of proto-men. Akatosh and the other gods kill Lorkhan and ascend to the heavens. The progenitor spirits spread across the land.
Merethic Era – Human and elven migrations begin and the various races are formed. Nords, Imperials, Bretons, and Redguards as races of men. High Elves, Wood Elves, Dark Elves, and Orcs as races of elves. Khajiits and Argonians as races of beastfolk.
First Era & Second Era – A turbulent time of archaic medieval practices that number far too many to cover within the scope of this book
Third Era – Tiber Septim aka Talos conquers all of Tamriel, guided by the spirit of Lorkhan. He creates great technological advancement that brings the continent of Tamriel into a united modern age before he dies and ascends to godhood, becoming the Ninth Divine.
4E 1 – End of the Oblivion Crisis and the Septim bloodline.
4E 2 – The Aldmeri Dominion of elves is reformed.
4E 3 – The ruling faction of the Dominion, the Thalmor, are given a seat in the Elder Council by High Chancellor Ocato.
4E 5 – Vivec is killed by the Nerevarine and the Red Mountain in Morrowind erupts.
4E 8 – The Argonians invade Morrowind in retaliation for the enslavement of their people.
4E 10 – The Thalmor begin discouraging Talos worship, sending ministry across Tamriel to start outlawing his appraisal. Tensions between Skyrim and the Empire flare.
4E 17 – Count Titus Mede of Falk’Wreath joins the Elder Council and Tamriel begins to reshape into a Republic.
4E 22 – Thane Ulfric Stormcloak murders Jarl Torygg of Nordenbjorg and is promptly arrested. A man is seen being banished by Akatosh from the heavens to Skyrim.
Later Krest passed by domed inner fields, where machines tilled the grounds stemmed from Dwemer science, smelling of crocus sativus and grains, wishing he’d be able to run his hands over the familiar stocks of wheat as he had once in the Gold Coast of his southern homeland. Cyrodiil had been much more vibrant and blended modernity with classical design in a way less jarring than Skyrim. Various dwarven automata trekked across the massive indoor farm, harvesting different colored grains; barley, rye, straw, and depositing it into the appropriate cannisters for collection. Farmers shepherded cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens into stalls as Krest watched from his glass window way up above. Waterfalls throttled and submerged into interior lakes with giant fish and exotic shrubbery acrost. Lotuses and lilypads floated on the surface. Dragonflies zooming around.
But eventually he arrived at the discharge offices, scanning his hand on the chip reader.
"You’re late,” announced Warden Rikke Tullius. She looked up from her court mandate when he entered. “Remember, this man is to be taken to the correct authorities in Nordenbjörg. I don’t think he’s important enough to send my own troops for, but the Council clearly don’t agree. So, you’re our compromise. Wayshrines are down so you’ll be traveling on foot. I’d recommend Nifelcairn Way, though mind the cultists.”
Krest nodded, eyelids drooping. Why do they want him in northern Skyrim and not down in the Imperial City? His gaze poured over her office, desk and metal-sealed door with steam pipes interconnected. I wonder if those Dibellan priestesses have anything to do with this.
Rikke briefly scanned her papers. “I’ll take you up to where he’s being kept. After that, he’s your problem. Any fuck-ups are on you.”
Krest’s brow curved like a scimitar.
Rikke led him through the old rectangular orifice into the courtrooms with representatives for the Jarl in place. Mock-fashion of the type of political-bantering that occurred in High Rock and Cyrodiil. They stopped there for a few minutes as Rikke snuck up to speak with the Imperial-commissioned ruler, who was also her husband, judging by the way she stroked his hand, Jarl Tullius.
“What of the city's new zoning ordinances?" Queried Tullius. "Have we arrived at a consensus?"
Krest noticed the central roundtable which was a magnum opus to the dimly lit expanse as the residents incessantly bickered atop the decadent woodwork. The rabbling was already irritating him.
"We proposed a bill to use the new edict to build more farms." A Nord woman copped a hand over her strawberry-auburns.
“Using the limited indoor Dwemer fields for more farms will just encourage more people to move here! Old Fort is capped if you haven’t noticed!” Cried a pompously clothed Kreathman. “We ought to deny any and all refugees from accessing this fine city.”
“Siddgeir, aren’t you the same one who wanted to encourage our population to birth more children? How hypocritical of you,” the same Nordic countered, drawing a quill over her notes.
“Nord children, Narri.” Smirked the ugly duckling.
Krest sighed as his head tilted towards the raised ceiling. Political discussion was obviously better than fighting but it was pointless because rarely did politicians attempt to make a change or enforce a useful policy. It was just a debate theatre for the masses who were foolish enough to think it would amount to anything other than entertainment.
"What would you propose then?” Narri chipped her lip. “That we build more housing facilities with the extra room? More homes won’t do much if there aren’t working people living in them and contributing to the economy.”
“Precisely why we’ll encourage the residents to procreate more.” Thane Siddgeir smiled smugly.
Jarl Tullius raised his palm. “Enough, Siddgeir. Bring in the traitor.”
A pair of Nord guards stepped out of the courtroom and came back in shortly with a prisoner in between their arms. A buff Nord man with a cloth tied around his mouth. They seated him in the front. Hushed conversation spilled across the room from the attendants.
“That’s Ulfric Stormcloak. People say he could be the Last Dragonborn,” one voice echoed.
“Don’t be silly. Just because he can use the Thu’um doesn’t make him Dragonborn,” a High Elf argued. Aldmeri Dominion by the look of her. Councilor Elenwen Saururill of the Elder Council if he remembered correctly. But why was she here?
“Ulfric Stormcloak, thane of Nordenbjorg. You are charged with inciting violence and murdering Jarl Torygg. How does the defendant plea?” Tullius’ crow’s feet wrinkled.
“Sir, he pleads guilty with the exception of this statement: The Thalmor and their elves wish to ban worship of Talos, and something must be done about it. Nordenbjorg is Skyrim’s largest and most powerful city, controlling it and declaring war on the Thalmor would prevent this,” said Ulfric’s representative.
Krest lurked from the shadows, leaning back, and crossing his arms against the nook.
“All of this for what, Ulfric? Just to dig your own grave like a fucking slave?” Tullius sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “The Thalmor have used diplomacy. Can you say the same?”
“Maybe that’s just a ploy…”
“Shut up, Jorleif you bloody bearded baboon.” Elenwen held her face in her hands. Two ginger twins in the crowd shared a knowing glance. “I think the more prudent question to ask would be what are the ethics of using such barbaric magic such as the Thu’um in modern day society?”
“The Nords in Nordenbjorg are archaic in their traditions, Elenwen.” Narri’s nose crinkled.
Tullius clapped his hands together. “Bring him up. Zero him.”
Why’s he even being prosecuted here? Too many loyalists in the north?
They bagged Ulfric and stuck his head under the noose, kicking the switch and letting him hang as public display. His sputters and gags clawed for life until eventually they subsided. Leaving nothing but a carcass.
Krest eyed the rebel’s swinging corpse with a twinge of jealousy. The cyclic snake was a caduceus around his head, throbbing in rhythm with his headache. His brain twisted and he clenched his jaw as the serpent encircled tighter and tighter, squeezing every remaining drop out until nothing was left expect this prison in the vast empty openness of absolute nothingness threatening to destroy him.
“Had enough?” Rikke snapped him out of his spinning thoughts. She had made her way back and dragged Krest ahead. “My husband, Ananias Tullius is an Imperial like you, and he’s Jarl of this city. We don’t tolerate the Nords’ purist thinking. Ulfric is the soul of that traditionalist rhetoric. It’s his policies why Nordenbjorg still has slaves and Vikings. Even with him dead it’ll take decades before everyone agrees to forgo that.”
Why not just kill everyone who wants to keep slaves? Do slaveowners even deserve to live?
Krest judged a pair of eggs with no less degree of consternation, his stomach grumbling. He spotted the odd set of cutlery or ceramic speckled about the royal court, usually utilized by non-nordics.
“We’ll grab some grub. Don’t worry.” Rikke’s frown turned upside down.
Half an hour of walking must’ve transpired as they descended and ascended the indoor city to wherever this ‘fallen angel’ was being held.
“Honest to Talos, I have no clue who this man is. There’s been speculation and examination, but it seems he’s mute and not the most cooperative in explaining himself.” She threw him an almond espy.
A wraithlike screeching sounded against the pebbles to their side. Mute? He picked at bits of crusted skin on his thumb.
“Already a few of the prisoners have begun hailing him as Ysmir or some malarkey.” Rikke turned a bend, pouring through narrower flights of stairs. “This prisoner has also attempted multiple times to rape the female guards and inmates.”
His neck cocked back at that revelation, frons knitting together. The rhythmic pulse of chemicals flushed from his brain. At least I get to beat this stupid fuck if he steps out of line. I guess that also explains why they banished him. No place for a rapist in heaven.
They passed queues of soldiers and crevices of civilization. Skylines and windows integrated into the mountain wall, scenery of Skyrim across snowy hills and eye-gluing vistas, traversing the various conduits and their curvature. The odor of old ale mixed with berries permeated, rushing waterways that dominated the center. It was faint and gray, streams dashing through with bridges and ladders crossing the small indoor rivers. The cities of Skyrim were something everyone had to behold for themselves to genuinely appreciate.
A man who looked a cross between a Breton and a Nord sashayed past, tattooed everywhere with a feathery headdress. “Reachmen, natives to the hinterlands of the west. They’ve been sending the more cosmopolitan ones to debate with the court on why their leader, Madanach should be on the throne,” Rikke elaborated.
Two large dogs barked ferociously at Krest, barely held back by their leashes. They held such hatred when they saw him and Krest suspected had their binds not been there, he’d be zeroed.
“Empirical bootlicker.” One guard gave him the finger as Rikke and him skirted by the entrance to crystal coves.
"I saw a mudcrab down here, scuttling about the other day. Horrible creature, stayed clear of it," another mentioned.
There was a hollowing circular exit up ahead that veered left, fallowing, skimming a short ways until disembarking at a palisaded room hidden in the side; the holding cells. Filled to the brim with eye-patch adorned assailants, bags of whole grain or saffron that tickled his palm, and water tins of purified make up. Covered with old wooden supports, rock seething through beneath reinforced foundations of the quarters above. Many prisoners, their identities hidden by shadows, stirred away on ominous objects. Groups of figures seated hither and thither with cards on the disorderly arrangement of benches, a few empty skooma bottles littered around to really seal in that clandestine ambiance. Krest and his guide dallied past the standard nordic who the former was slowly growing more accustomed to.
“You want something to eat?” Rikke turned back to look at him. “Get you a real breakfast, none of that dry old paste they shove down you youngsters’ throats.”
Krest showed her his wrist, plainly annoyed.
“No worries, we need our elven-ambassador, Ancano to corroborate before release.” Rikke stretched her arms. “Though, the sooner we get him out of here, we won’t have the whole of Summerset on our ass. Then they’ll be Haafinheim’s problem.”
Krest shrugged, he couldn’t care less.
“Which means if you lose him, it’s your ass they’re gonna blame.” The honey-almond palette of her insets grew solemn.
They came to the center of the kitchens, where a makeshift pot was bubbling with a watery-red substance. Bananas from the jungles of Tenmar, Elsweyr visited his nose. Krest licked his lips, tracking the fetal-swirling trails of the crimson stew. It reminded him of the growth pods the High Elves employed to birth their babies according to their eugenic laws. He found himself a deserted corner with ligneous blinds to give him some privacy. Krest slid some fried eggs between a cut baguette and poured himself a coffee. The evocation of the caffeinated drink cleared his nasal cavities.
After forcing the food down his gullet, he rested his head on the countertop, listening to his stomach complain about the rate at which he ate.
“You eat fast for such a little thing.” Rikke grinned into her cup.
"Sorry it took me longer to get here, I ran into some of netwatch who needed paperwork done that Elenwen neglected.” A High Elf entered the room, clothed in dark gray. This was likely the forementioned Ancano. A noble and poised countenance with raised cheekbones and sharp, pointed ears that spired through his goldilocks. The elf’s skin pale white with a hint of goldish undertone.
"No worries, I arrived not long ago as well.” Rikke sipped her tar like tea. “You wanted to see who was moving our high rider?”
Krest took a long intake, finishing the remainder of coffee, the taste bitter but familiar, flavorful ash knotted his tongue. He dished the plate in the sink.
"Well, it’s the prisoner I’m more interested in. I’m sure you people had this deliverer checked-out.” Ancano swept his gelled blond mop aside.
“Haven’t you done enough of your tests, elf?” Rikke’s armoured shoulders slumped.
The relatively young Altmeri’s visage expanded slightly. “This is going to sound crazy, but I think Akatosh must’ve banished this man from the heavens for a crime he committed. Perhaps he wasn’t truthful pertaining to his identity.”
"That doesn’t tell us who this prisoner is." Krest could practically hear the crease between Rikke’s forehead as she spoke.
"No, it doesn’t I suppose.” Ancano sniffed. “Why would Akatosh banish him though? Perhaps he intended for this man to be persecuted by us mortals?”
Seems us ‘mortals’ are always stuck doing everything.
“Maybe.” Rikke leaned on her arm, a vein in her bicep emerging. A tangy sugariness folded on his tastebuds as he brushed the crumbs from his lips. "Hmm. Whoever this mysterious stranger is, he must’ve really pissed the Divines off for them to physically expunge him from Aetherius." The woman chafed her teeth together according to the ear-splitting noise that escaped her mouth. "They haven't just flown out of the sun before like that.”
"Perhaps it’s another deity." Ancano raised a finger. “They did banish Lorkhan in the Dawn Era, right?"
"And what? They want some prophesied mortal to defeat him?” Rikke squeezed her temples with one hand. “Like a Dragonborn?”
Krest’s ears twitched. They want the Last Dragonborn to defeat this guy? Is he the Betrayer referenced in the prophecy?
“Perhaps. But this is all speculative of course. We should really prep the inmate for transport.” Ancano stepped over to Krest, offering a hand. “I assume you’re the Praetorian? Ancano Charmaine.” Krest shook his palm, drawing a line over his voice box. “Is that like a personal attack or something…?” Ancano frowned.
“I think that’s just his way of saying he’s mute,” Rikke clarified for him.
Shortly thereafter, they proceeded out the mess hall and back up the way towards the holding cells. The three came upon the dusty and barrel strewn area. Krest inspected the crates and battered old casks. Goosebumps split across his skin.
The air felt chilly. Raw. Spite there being no access to outside from here.
The further down they went, the more it blackened into a herma-morian carapace. He heard some whispering coming from the corner of the room. Several small vipers swum in the purple ichor of drainage pipes to his left. The shadowy figure in the recess of the prison was completely concealed save for a pair of glowing violet eyes that stared back. Its pupils like demonic strips.
"That’s him," Rikke pointed out.
The silhouette of the man gulped down whitish, calcified tissue.
Conspiring in dark corners he did.
Once more did he conspire.
The shadow stopped dancing and peered at him from the gloom, the umbra obscured his appearance.
It all dissolved into the nothingness. Soon only Krest and the shadowy reflection were there, eyes locked on one another, unmoving. The chains that bound it misted into nothing and he stood up carefully, not breaking eye contact with the inmate as he himself backed away into the opposite corner. Soon he was protected by gloom, but his vision stayed locked on his Adversary's gaze which cut through the darkness like moonlight.
System failure. Cannot compute. Stasis mode.
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A/N: Please review. I’ll be gone for the next two-three weeks on vacation to Europe so I won’t be able to post or reply to any messages or comments. Here’s a link to a trailer I made for this story. If the link is inaccessible, look up Skyrim 10th Anniversary Edition (Read Description) on YouTube. It should be by ‘K’. Skyrim 10th Anniversary Edition (Read Description) - YouTub