Goodbye Skyrim: Chapter 9

  • It wasn’t exactly easy to slip away. As a matter of fact, he would probably have to apologise to Grulmar at some point. That said, the bloody bastard would probably enjoy it. Tein knew he wouldn’t. Seif-ij had been sizing him up ever since he got here and he knew exactly what she wanted from him, something he wasn’t exactly ready to give. Besides, the lighter air was a welcome break to his senses. There was something extremely unpleasant about the heavy smell of mead that hung around the party itself.


    Away from the well-lit porch, it took a moment before he saw anything at all. As his eyes were adapting to the night, a curious smell entered his nostrils, soon accompanied by the familiar twong of a bowstring releasing it’s deadly projectile. He grinned, of course she would be here. You can only enjoy a party full of drunk people for so long when you can’t even get tipsy yourself. He grabbed Orkey from the rack beside the door, slung him over his shoulder and headed in the direction of the sound. It was a small practice range the old mer set up when he first moved in. As he expected he found a redheaded fury unleashing Hircine’s wrath onto the straw targets.


    Äelberon’s practice range was cloaked in darkness, not something that bothered either of them all that much. The only thing distracting their predatory eyes was the small lantern sitting on the table next to her.


    They had never really spoken, but they did similar work and had therefore, crossed paths more often than either of them would have liked. Before Äelberon made his way north, she was probably the only person who he could look up to as far as marksmanship went. He respected her for that.


    Doing his star sign proud, the lizard slipped behind her and leaned his back against a tree before loudly asking;


    “So, still not drunk then?”


    To his surprise Aela wasn’t startled, it almost ruined the fun for him. But, then again, he knew that sneaking up on an experienced werewolf wasn’t easy. Just like how sneaking up on a former Shadowscale wasn’t an easy task either. May that fat shit of an Orc never rest in peace.


    “Nope.” Aela shrugged before drawing another arrow. Teineeva admired her technique. He could see Äelberon’s teachings had refined her a bit, but she still felt wild and free in her movements, not like the more stiff though arguably more precise shooting performed by soldiers; she was a huntress. And a good one at that.


    “In that case I’ve got something for you,” he replied and offered her the opened bottle of Argonian Bloodwine he brought with him. One from a small case he had brought. “This ought to help, it works for me.”


    “I don’t think it will,” she sighed, somewhat irritated by the lizard’s presence, “I can… handle quite a lot.”


    “I know, I can smell it,” he declared, doing his best to pass it off nonchalantly.


    She lowered her bow and turned her head, a frown now dominating her features as she suspiciously narrowed her eyes.. Her right hand searching for another arrow, or perhaps her dagger.


    “You can?” she asked, somewhat surprised, “How long have you known?”


    “Oh, a good few years,” he laughed, to his surprise she didn’t seem startled by the sound, “I knew the first time I walked into Jorrvaskr. I doubt you would remember that day; Kodlak refused me. Something about having too many shadows following me, seems he refused a lot of people,” he grinned. Back then the comment had cut deeper than he would ever admit to anyone, even if he couldn’t remember the exact words. The wounds it had opened were too fresh.


    “And you didn’t told the Old Blade or anyone else.” It wasn’t really a question, more of a statement but there was a slight hint of a question under Aela’s stoicism.


    “Well, at that point I had only just walked through Pale pass a week or two before, I had no clue it was a secret,” he took the tankard on the table and took a swig, then promptly added “And later. Well, didn’t seem important to bring it up, since you weren’t running around eating people.”


    “No bounty on our heads you mean,” she smirked she was about to turn her back on him again and draw another arrow when she stopped, “You know what, give me that bottle. If it works, I might consider going easy on you.”


    “When it works, you’ll hate me for it,” his teeth flashed silver in the moonlight.


    The bottle itself was made out of simple opaque glass, probably for the better, as in the light of the moons, the liquid, a dark deep red, now looked like black tar.


    “Hircine’s balls, it reeks!” She was revulsed by the smell but managed to laugh it off, “Just the smell alone could kill a mammoth.”


    “Perhaps,” Teineeva suppressed a chuckle, “You should taste it before judging it.”


    “Fair enough,” she replied as she put her bow down, leaning against the table, as she took a gulp of the mysterious brew.


    “Try to make sure those idiots,” he gestured at the ‘stead, “never get their hands on it though; in large quantities it may cause heart failure.” He made sure to accentuate the last two words.


    The comment made Aela spit out the wine. She wiped her mouth and snarled at the now bent over lizard, making that nasty noise Argonians qualified as laughing.


    “Want to kill me, moron?”


    Teineeva gestured at her to wait while he did his best to stop laughing. After a short moment he finally recovered, a playful grin still firmly attached to his face. Why did he always need to know how long he could poke a beast before it snapped?


    “Your resistance will take care of it, don’t worry. The fermentation process got rid of most of the poison but, anyone who isn’t a Bosmer, Redguard, Argonian, werewolf or vampire should try to avoid drinking it.” He pushed himself away from the tree and gently picked up Aela’s bow, “I gave Serana and Tavia some as well. From what Erik has told me about Serana, I may have made a bad choice there.”


    “You may have,” Aela found herself smiling. “This stuff is actually pretty good. Bitter beyond reason yet sweet. Reminds me a bit of oranges. Tried them at the Old Mer’s birthday party about two years back...”


    “That’s not a bad guess. It’s made from Bergamot, Foxglove and Goldenrod. Bergamot is somewhat related to the orange tree.” His claws caressed the dwemer craftsmanship of her bow, “At least I think it is. Did Sun-shines-where-it-shouldn’t make this for you?”


    “Who?” she looked confused.




    “No,” the look of confusion was replaced by a longing Teineeva understood all too well. “This bow is from our trial at the Aetherium Forge. When we escaped, Grulmar had no use for it, and mine, the one Äelberon had made for me, was lost… It is a remarkable bow. It’s called Zephyr.”


    Teineeva gave her back her bow, his gaze wandering towards the party. Seif was still occupied. Good.


    “The Aetherium Forge,” he repeated, a clear aftertaste of bile clinging onto his tone. He didn’t mean it to, but it was hard to resist it, because the Forge was where one of his friends died. Because of the Altmer. For the Altmer. Maybe it was a selfish thing to put blame on someone like this, but he couldn’t help himself. It was stupid, and purely that self-reflection was why he was trying not to act on it. Emphasis on trying.


    “What’s your problem, lizard?” Aela asked, a fire in her eyes. Was she a dragon like her shield-brother or a wolf? “You’ve been making comments like this for the entire evening and it’s starting to get on my nerves. He doesn’t deserve that,” she took an arrow out of her quiver and pressed it against his throat and this time it was her turn to be surprised by his lack of reaction. “Why are you even here if you don’t like him?”


    “It’s... complicated,” he sighed. “Shiny killed one of my brethren. The last of our kind. It took me a while to come to terms with that.”


    “Well, clearly you still haven’t,” she huffed, narrowing her eyes. .


    “Oh, I have. We were never that close. How would you Nords call it? Oh, yes. ’It’s water under the bridge.’”




    “Trollshit under the bridge,” he laughed, “Can’t say I’ve heard that one before.”


    “No, you damn lizard, I meant that you’re lying. You still behave like you have some kind of grudge to settle with him. Should I worry you’d try something stupid? You say he killed a brother of yours but Äelberon is my brother too, remember that if you don’t want to end up as my new quiver.” A wolf, she was definitely a wolf.


    “Oh, don’t worry. Argonian grudges tend to get a little more aggressive than this. Last time our race had to settle one we caused a small Oblivion crisis,” he joked, doing his best to calm her down a bit. “If I really had a grudge against Shiny, one of us probably wouldn’t be alive anymore.”


    A moment of silence followed and then the Argonian shrugged. “Although I’m sorry about the comment. The bow really is a beautiful work. A suitable replacement for your old bow, xhu? I know very well what it is to lose something as beautiful, and Orkey will never properly replace Naga in my hands. Especially when I’ve grown to appreciate it for reasons besides the purely practical,” he apologised, sighing. Calling a bow beautiful now, Teineeva? You must sound even more alien than your marsh-brothers. He pulled a necklace out from under his tunic.


    A simple leather string held together his most treasured belongings. The fragments of Naga’s handle. Two broken parts of the same whole. It still hurt to see them. Fucking Lorbulg, may his bloody corpse rot forever and his soul be shred apart by the princes. At least that’s what he wished would happen but he knew very well that the Orc had acted on a contract. Sithis would welcome the green pig in his embrace.


    “What happened to it?” the huntress asked, having recognised what the pieces once were.


    “It broke in a fight with the one who killed the Emperor,” Teineeva declared. “Bastard broke it in half after I lost, hoping he could break me,” he smiled, he heard the Orc assassin had collapsed onto the ground from some form of internal injury so if anything it was he who broke the Orc. “He almost did.”


    Teineeva handed her the amulet made of the remains of Naga and she ran her fingers over the carvings. The pattern had started to show signs of erosion. Time had a habit of disregarding sentiment; the river flows in one direction and it does not care for rocks or dams, it will always flow.


    “It’s beautiful, more art than bow though,” She handed the necklace back. “Who made it?”


    “Someone very dear to me.” He could feel the melancholy roll off his tongue as he said it. At least it hid the feeling of guilt. “I personally made the rest of that bow; Naga, I called it. It traced my journey from Blackmarsh to Skyrim.” A proud smile appeared on his face, an Argonian smile. “In a few years, Orkey here, will probably end up like a roadmap too,” he said as he offered her his own bow.


    She looked at the shards of malachite lodged into the wood and ivory. She frowned her brow, her hand quickly recoiling from the sharpened crystals as she accidentally cut her finger on one of them. “More sabre than bow, this one,” she shook her head, her eyes distracted by the small cut. “You do know you use a bow to shoot people, right? Not to slap them.”


    “Haha, you really think I never heard that one before? I simply tend to shoot at a far closer range than most,” he replied dryly, wondering how they would fair in an actual fight against each other. Aela was strong, skilled and wild, but just like an animal her wolf form made her predictable. But, she would probably have the range advantage. Better to meet her in a dark alleyway than in an open field. Could be fun to see how well his claws would hold up to those of a seasoned werewolf.


    “So you’re saying you can’t hit a mammoth from more than five paces away?” Aela teased him, pulling him out of his musings. Probably for the better.


    “No, when a mammoth is closer than five paces I cut off its trunk,” he rolled his eyes. Apparently the beast knew how to poke back; good. “Instead of us simply comparing bows like a bunch of teenage nords-”


    “Teenage?” She interrupted. A playful glint in her pale grey eyes. She knew what was coming. Smart woman.


    “Like a ’bunch’ of Nords then. Anyway, not the point, would you like to make a little wager?” As he said it he suddenly felt an urge to slap a certain little Orc. Bloody nicknames.


    “There it is, I was waiting for you to say that. You have quite the reputation, Archivist,” she smiled and he noticed how her canines were perhaps a little sharper than they should be. He wondered if Äelberon had noticed that as well. Did she sharpen them or was this just a result of her lycanthropy?


    “I would hope so, a lot of hard work went into that one,” he smiled, flashing a dragon-like grin of his own. “Anyway, one thousand septims says I shoot better than you.”


    “That’s brave,” she declared. And after a short moment of deliberation she continued: “Sure,” she offered her open palm and the lizard accepted it. “You better have the money.”


    “Trust me, I do.” Turns out the person examining the Titus Mede incident in Solitude recognised Lorbulg’s internal injury. Teineeva had been sleeping on his gold like a greedy old dragon ever since.


    She grabbed a handful of arrows out of her quiver and handed them to the lizard. “Not that I don’t like the company, but why are you even out here?”


    “I’m not drunk enough for their bullshit, and I like the quiet.”


    “You sure it has nothing to do with the Argonian lass that has been eyeing you since you got here?” she pointed at the party where Seif’s absence meant she was still toying with the Greenskin. Bloody runt was a mage now, who’d have thought.


    “You noticed that too then…” he released an annoyed sigh. Of course she did. It startled them both when his tail suddenly hit the table in frustration. Ouch. That hurt more than he thought it would.


    “Everyone has,” Aela said as she recovered and smiled at his painful face. “There’s probably already a bet going as to whether or not you’ll end up in bed with her by the end of the night, just like Erik and the Redguard girl.”




    “What’s wrong? You’re not feeling it?” Her inquiry came from a place of wonder, guess it wasn’t too normal for a huge, often drunk, warriors in Nord culture not to want sex.


    “Not one bit,” he sighed. “Seif and I have different ideas on sex. I haven’t been that intimate with someone since my time in Valenwood.” Shit, he shouldn’t have said that.


    “But, you’ve been in Skyrim for years, right?” She wasn’t as surprised as he thought she would be. Clearly living with a previously abstinent priest of Auriel made her a bit more open to the idea. “Are you really telling me you haven’t had any since before that?”


    “Pretty much, yes.” He had tried it once, but things never got off the ground as he whimpered out of there before it even started. His reaction to Seif had been more or less the same.


    “Who was she?” Aela asked, hitting a nerve he never thought she’d go for. Turns out Äelberon’s romantic side had been spreading.


    This was why he shouldn't have mentioned anything. Stupid lizard, letting out your secrets already. He looked at the bottle of wine; surely he hadn’t had that much yet.


    “A Bosmer, a young ivory carver that gave me shelter when I first left the marshes, she made Naga’s handle,” he sat down on the table and pulled up his necklace again to illustrate his words.


    “You know where she is now?” she asked, her eyes piercing his. He wondered if she had noticed his fear of the question, but then she was a Nord and he was an Argonian. Unless he wanted her to notice it, chances were she never would. Her nostrils then flared slightly and he remembered she wasn’t just a Nord.


    And now you’re trapped, he repressed a hiss. No need to strike out at her, if he’d been more careful in his answers he wouldn’t have gotten to this point.


    “She’s dead,” he capitulated. “It’s a long story. The short of it is that I made a mistake and she had to pay for it. Since then I’ve tried to steer away from those mistakes.”


    “Contracts, not causes…” She whispered. She looked away from him, preferring instead to face the emptiness of the night sky and the dancing remnants of Magnus’ children. “That’s what you keep saying, right? Like a mantra.”


    “You got the gist of it,” he forced a smile, doing his best impression of a stone-hearted asshole as he tried to change the topic. “But trollshit under the bridge, right?”


    “I lost someone I loved too,” her voice faltered, “He was murdered. I also haven’t been with anyone since.”


    Despite the fact that in their line of work someone trying to kill them was probably just another Morndas, he was taken aback by her candour. There was part of him that was inclined to comfort her, but the way she looked, like a lone wolf chased into a corner, it most likely wasn’t a good idea.


    “What did you do?” he eventually asked, his voice changing into a much softer tone, which surprised even himself. Never been good at comforting.What the end of the world won’t do for you. Shiny better get this right.


    “I tracked them down and Bormah murdered every last one of them,” she declared, her voice still not quite fitting her physique. “He was very good to me in that dark time. Still is...”




    “Äelberon. It means ‘father’ in the dragon tongue and on that day he was like one, an avenging one, and he’s been like one to me ever since.”


    “So not a brother then?”


    “Yes and no. Brother on the outside,” the wolf’s eyes softened. “But a father deep down.”


    “If I had the strength to do what you two did, I wouldn’t be around anymore.” His voice trailed off into the abyss. Drowned like a man in the mire.


    “You blame yourself?”


    “I did,” he lied. One could argue a half truth like that was better than a lie. He wasn’t convinced. “When she died, I… had to uphold the… the Meat Mandate. Then I fled the province. It’s how I got here. By being a coward.”


    “The Meat Mandate,” she hesitated. “Do you mean… ” She gave him a hard stare, the silver eyes almost briefly gaining a wash of yellow.  And for a moment pondered pushing him away to push her dagger into his neck and rid the world of the monster in front of her. She didn’t, but he knew she thought about it. Of course, it wasn’t the entire truth, but he nodded nonetheless. “You killed her?” she then asked bluntly, her jaws clenched and eyes narrowed.


    “More or less, in the end all I did was to put her out of the misery I caused.” He grimaced in disgust, more so at his own acts back then, than at the brutality of the raid that ended his stay in Valenwood.


    “That must have been hard to do.” Her features softened slightly.


    “It was,” he replied solemnly, leaving his words hang in the air for a moment; letting it sink in. She was also still, almost reluctant to begin shooting, to start their wager, her eyes finding the night sky again.


    He didn’t usually share that memory with people, but he felt that if anyone here could understand, it would be the werewolf. He used to be afraid of it. As a matter of fact he still was. He could only barely remember her smile, the sound of her voice or how much he liked seeing her be so focused on her craft, that she would let the tip of her tongue slip past her velvet lips. However, her taste had never fully left his mouth and its memory was as vivid as the day it happened.


    Sunk deep in his thoughts, his eyes couldn’t help but follow the hail of arrows Aela unleashed onto the target. All of them landed, all of them but one.


    “Ha, you missed that one. Don’t go telling me you’re that easily distracted?” He gloated, immediately pulled out of his melancholy.


    She regarded him, almost taken aback at his sudden change in mood for a moment, but then her eyes narrowed. “Let’s see you do better.” She challenged.

    The hand hurt as damn Oblivion and Fasendil kept rubbing it like a little boy. It felt as if his muscles hardened, still locked in that Dusken grip of Äelberon’s. That’s what you get for arm wrestling with the big oaf, Fasendil thought, still sour about his defeat. He really thought he’d get him this time, the way he looked. Thin and… What’s that damn word? Mal-something. Malnourished? Yeah, that’s the fancy word. Just didn’t think he had it in him tonight. Bugger.


    Probably the only reason Äelberon won was because he had just had sex. Yup, that’s it. Sex gets you pumped up. Well, you wouldn’t know, Sendil, you hadn’t any in few years and tugging at your Dusken pole in the dark of your field tent is a very poor substitute. He suddenly frowned, because all the thinking about sex only got him frustrated.


    And the damn Orc was nowhere around to pour him a drink, which he needed badly. So it came to the point when he had to pour himself some mead on his own - which actually wasn’t anything new under the sun. He was always of the mind that a drink tasted better when one poured it himself.


    Just as he began walking around the counter towards the keg, he realized he might have already had quite a few tankards of that delicious mead, because the world around him was rocking a bit. But only a bit. He could still walk straight - well, at least I think it’s straight. How am I supposed to know when the world is rocking?


    After few attempts and spilling some mead on the ground - the tundra grass would enjoy the sweetness - he managed to get his tankard full and he looked back at the table, at another two contestants locked in the same challenge of strength and he grimaced. That young ginger Nord now stepping up, ready to take on Ronnie. The one with crippled hand. What was his name? So many bloody names.


    Fasendil thought about watching for a moment, but then he decided it wasn’t worth it since he already knew the result. The young Nord was well built, but nowhere close to good old third era Dusken stock. The Twins had found that out soon enough too after Fasendil fell to Ronnie. They were sitting at another corner of the table, like two lost puppies, the bruises from their own scuffle just popping up, nursing their own sore arms and even sorer pride. And the young Nord would also find out, so he didn’t need to see that played out, yet again. Besides, the Legate needed to piss. So aye, not worth watching.


    With that, he began walking away from the porch, in Whiterun’s direction, seeing nice big stones a short distance away from the ‘stead which definitely seemed in need of a thorough Dusken watering. Though with all the mead he just drank, he wouldn’t be surprised if the stones cracked or something like that under all the pressure.  


    As soon as he stepped out of the light of the homestead, he began tripping over the slightest bumps he wouldn’t under normal conditions even notice or trip over, which to him was yet another confirmation that he managed to drink more than his regular share of mead.


    He noticed the faint light of a torch ahead. With focused eyes and his tongue just sticking out of his mouth - for concentration - he attempted to head towards the light without spilling a drop of the precious stuff. As he drew closer he recognized the Goldpact Knight, whatever his name was, Tenapa, Tonoova, Titikaka. Blast Argonian names to Oblivion when you’re drunk!… and the Nord huntress - Aela, she’s named Aela. Good job, Sendil, you remember one name! You can pat yourself on your shoulder.


    They were both holding bows and shooting at something in the dark and as he was slowly shortening the distance, their words began reaching his ears.


    “Ha, you missed that one. Don’t go telling me you’re that easily distracted?” the Argonian provoked the huntress and from the sound of it she wasn’t one to let it really slide.


    “Let’s see you do better.”


    Well, no ‘scaly bastard’ eh? Instead Aela asked him to put his money where his mouth is. Those are the best kind of women, Fasendil thought with a chuckle and that seemed to attract their attention because they both turned in his direction, their faces illuminated by the light of the torch. The dancing shadows gave the Argonian one damn scary look and if Fasendil was still a wee nipper, he would’ve probably pissed himself. Speaking of that…


    “Don’t let me interrupt you,” he raised his hand, looking around. “I just need to piss. Know any good places? I’d hate to piss on my cousin’s flowers. Altmer take their gardening very seriously.”


    The lizard pointed towards the homestead, baring his teeth. “That way. Definitely no flowers in there. Nope.” He then pointed behind himself. “Or an hour that way and you can piss on Whiterun’s very walls.”


    Aela shot the bounty hunter a look, narrowing her eyes. “Fool…”


    “I’m afraid if I went and did that, they would have to rename it Yellowrun,” Fasendil grinned, expecting them both to laugh, but they just exchanged glances. “Oh come on now, that was funny.”


    “A bit,” the Argonian shrugged. “Or maybe you’re just more drunk than we are, Legate.”


    “Pffft,” Fasendil waved his hand in dismissal. “You’ll know when I’m drunk, lad. No appreciation for Dusken humor, poles up your arses.” He glanced at the table next to those two archers, at the quivers with arrows in it and then his gaze shifted towards the tankard in his hand. He narrowed his eyes and then put the tankard on the table, slowly backing away. “Stay. Stay.” The two archers shared looks again. “What? Well, don’t you even think about touching her. She’s my mead.”


    “Her?” the Argonian - Teineeva! Yes, that’s the name! - chuckled. “And here I was thinking calling a bow ‘beautiful’ was strange.”  


    Fasendil snorted, shaking his head. “What can I say? Mead is like a woman. You have to enjoy every...swallow. Hehehe.” The Legate burst out in laughing at his own joke as he walked into the dark, picking one of the boulders ahead as his target. “And that mead. Oh boy, that mead is so good that if I could I’d have sex with her and so that she could give birth to more little meads, I would...”


    “I think the Legate is not entirely right in the head,” Teineeva murmured, but Fasendil could still pick it up with his elven ears.


    “Runs in the family,” he grinned over his shoulder as he began unlacing his trousers. “Yes, yes. I’ve been looking forward to this. Been holding it for days now and with so much mead...ah, here it comes.” Even though the evening was considerably warm, there was still steam rising from the piss that sprayed over the large boulder and Fasendil released a relieved sigh. He looked over his shoulder, noticing the two watching him with raised eyebrows. “What are you bloody staring at? Never seen an Altmer take a piss?” He looked back at his cock, gave it a good shake and then began pulling up his trousers again. “Hah. Probably not. Poles up their arses and all, though cuz’s pretty shy too. Secretive old bugger, too long alone.” Fasendil looked back again, surprised to still see their faces. “But really, you can stop staring now. Don’t you have something to shoot at?”


    “I might be seeing something to shoot at,” the Argonian bared his teeth in what seemed like a wicked grin, but it could have been just an amused smile as well. Argonians...


    Aela snorted at that. “Continue with such remarks and I might be seeing something to shoot at too. Always fancied what kind of a cloak Argonian scales would make."


    She said that with such a stone face Fasendil wasn’t entirely sure if it was a joke or not. He hoped it was, and thankfully Teineeva took it as one, chuckling. Fasendil walked towards the table with his precious mead, measuring the Argonian out of the corner of his eye. He was a big one and in a way stranger than most of his kind, the way he seemed to enjoy vexing people. Well, maybe it wasn’t vexing, but his unique brand of humour, though Fasendil still managed to pick up the dark undercurrents whenever Ronnie was mentioned in conversation.


    Teineeva nocked an arrow and shot it at the target in the dark while Fasendil sipped his mead. The uncomfortable silence began stretching out as the Argonian let arrow after arrow loose at the target and Aela turned to Fasendil, raising her eyebrows.


    “Do you shoot, Legate?” she raised her bow in a gesture that was somewhere between pointing with it and offering it to Fasendil.


    He nearly chortled on his mead, resolutely shaking his head and deciding that it was best to perhaps not name the scores of archers that came from his old clan. “Oh, unless we are suddenly shooting axes and not arrows, then no, I leave the shooting to my cuz, his mother’s side always had the strongest archers, and he is  the best among the living of our clan. It’s how he’s going to stop the end of the world, you know?” He made hand appear like it was going to follow the trajectory of an arrow. “Old bastard’s going to shoot one of his arrows right up Alduin’s arse and that will be the end of it.”


    “Really?” Teineeva snorted. “Just one arrow and that’s it? You make it sound like he’s - what’s his name? Anuiel? Auriel? One of those - himself if one arrow is all that it’ll take to defeat Alduin.” The Argonian then set his bow on the table and hissed, his tongue flashing behind his sharp teeth. “If you ask me, I think he’s not going to defeat him at all. I would even bet on it.”


    Fasendil felt his eyebrows go up in surprise and he had difficulties keeping his mouth shut, after all, the youngling really didn’t know Ronnie. “You want to bet on the end of world?” he asked, trying to make sure he understood what was said correctly. “You do realize you are part of that world you are betting against, right?”


    The bounty hunter only shrugged. “Where I was born, I was taught that time is like a river. You can build a dam to divert or to halt it, but it will never stop flowing and eventually even the greatest dam will be breached. If Alduin exists and his role in this place is to bring forth the end of the world, perhaps that is how it was meant to be. You can swim only with the river, not upstream, such is the natural order.”


    “Natural order my arse,” Aela growled. “This is Äelberon we’re talking about. The Dragonborn. The prophecy foretold his coming, saying that he will be Alduin’s Doom and Savior of Man.”


    “Not only the savior of man, I hope,” Fasendil murmured under his breath, shaking his head, the drunken haze seemingly vanishing as his mind was trying to cope with such a mindset. “How can you really believe this, Teineeva? That the world should end? Bad things happened in it, yes, done by bad people, but we can always strive to be better, and just because we have made mistakes doesn’t mean the world should end.”


    “Maybe the world is a mistake, perhaps it was never meant to endure,” the Argonian pointed out and Fasendil grimaced, because the argument sounded all too familiar to him. For didn’t Thalmor say something similar to this? A prison, that’s what the Thalmor called this world, a prison they needed to escape. “This world is just an egg-shell,” Teineeva continued. “An old and cracked one and it is bound to break eventually, so that something new can be born. Just look at history, at the past few centuries. Dagoth Ur, the Oblivion Crisis, Umbriel, Red Year. It’s almost as if existence was trying to end itself. Maybe Alduin is the last resort that has to fix all the failed attempts? The breach that breaks through all the dams we’ve been building.”


    “I am sorry, Teineeva,” the Legate grunted, shaking his head, “but I can’t believe something so...hopeless. Besides, we’ve had disasters like this even before the bridge between the third and fourth eras. The Dragon Wars, the Thrassian Plague, the Planemeld. Do you think the world should have ended after those events too? Yes, existence may have nearly ended a few times, but it has always been prevented, by the heroes who brought the people together to face the end-”


    The Argonian snorted, interrupting the Legate. “And what did it lead to? This rallying cry of the prophesied heroes? For every cataclysm we survive, another takes its place. Perhaps the world simply wants to end itself. So it makes me wonder; in this awe-inspiring conflict between Äelberon and Alduin, who represents the natural flow of the river? And who is the desperate dam? The World-eater or the World-saver?”


    “Bullshit,” Aela bared her teeth, getting quite frustrated by this. “Why are we even having this argument? We live in this world, millions and millions of us, and we can find happiness even despite war and everything bad that happens. He has told me this always ‘live for the little moments, moments of hevla, joy.’” Fasendil blinked at that. So Ronnie’s taught you some words, eh? “That you can’t have this joy unless you feel the pain first. We like this world. Shouldn’t that be enough to preserve it?”


    “So the end shouldn’t come because... we live here, because we don’t want it to end?” Teineeva raised his eye ridges, he may even have smiled. “Such a dry-skin thing to say. Clinging to the rocks in the river is what you do, even if you take so much delight in kicking others off theirs.”


    “Let me understand this. You’re saying that as those who live in this world, we have no right to dam the flow that would pull us and everyone else into the deep?” Fasendil retorted, tilting his head. He was glad he already pissed, otherwise, all this talk of rivers and water would have been a problem, or he would’ve lost his temper and given the Argonian a good soaking. “Are you telling me we shouldn’t struggle? That we should just let the end take us?”


    “I’m not saying anything, just yet, I’m simply pondering aloud,” Teineeva replied and the Legate grimaced at that. It was a world view that Fasendil didn’t understand. He, a survivor of the Great Anguish, a survivor of Green Fire, of Red Ring.


    “Would you blame a boar for a desperate charge against a pack of wolves that have encircled it?” Aela questioned, narrowing her eyes. “You speak of natural order and this damn river of yours, but isn’t it also the natural response of life to distance itself from death, no matter how desperate?” She then shook her head. “Then why wouldn’t defeating Alduin be the right thing?”


    “Because I can’t exclude the fact that it may not be?” Teineeva offered.


    “Instead of looking at the problem from the perspective of your damn river, you should take a step back into its waters. When you’re drowning, you fight against the stream, right?” Aela continued with a wolfish grin on her face.


    “I can breathe underwater.” The Argonian countered and aye, Fasendil saw, there was a cheeky grin on his face, no mistaking that, but he had a valid point and Fasendil wondered if the Huntress would counter.


    “Hmm, I knew you’d say that, smart arse.” Good lass, the Legate smiled. "Not every dangerous situation under water is remedied by you simply breathing. The waters are frigid, the creatures dangerous, so even you would try to get out, because life clings to itself. When I hunt a deer, is it right for me to simply eat it or is it right for it to escape my arrows and flee into the night? It depends on who you are when you look at the question. We live in this world and therefore don’t want it to end; stopping its end is the only right thing we can do, not just for ourselves but for each other. I think that perhaps you shouldn’t see Aëlberon as a dam against the flow of the world’s river, but as a boat, afloat and on course.”


    “A temporary solution to a constant problem then. Perhaps,” the Argonian shrugged, looking as if he was getting tired of this argument. “So that’s a no, then? On the bet on the end of the world?”


    Both Fasendil and Aela gave him looks and so he shrugged again. “It was worth a try.” With those words, he began walking back to the homestead, leaving Fasendil and Aela alone and the huntress let out an exasperated sigh.


    “Can you even believe it, Legate? That someone can have such an opinion?”


    Fasendil was silent for a moment, pondering that question. While he didn’t agree with the Argonian’s stance, he couldn’t help but wonder. Was the world really worth saving? For all its faults, its sins, its darkness. The world was a virtual maelstrom of chaos. Ronnie certainly believed it was worth saving. He believed it back at Crystal-Like-Law when Dagon burned the skies and he believed it now that Alduin was threatening worse. And he was just as willing to give himself up for it now as he was back then, to be the great boat that carried all of them through the rapids of the river, dodging the rocks, and preventing them from sinking. But the boat was now so old, the wood creaking and buckling from stress and storm, the long sails tattered, beaten. And yet, he will carry us again. I know he will, he has to.


    “Fasendil, you alright?” Aela asked. “You’re crying.”


    The old mer shook his head, not even realising he was lost in his own thoughts. He straightened his back and cleared his throat, because no damn fucking Dusken would give to despair so easy. He smiled and put an arm around the youngling’s shoulder, giving her a wink that blinked away the last of his tears. “Aye, lass, I’m fine. Just an old crazy Mer who’s had one too many, that’s all. Altmer always cry after they piss. It’s because we have to wait so long.”


    That made her throw her neck back in a hearty laugh. “Well? Can you believe it?” she repeated.


    Fasendil was sharply aware of the fact that to him, as an individual, his own existence was his world and that was the way it was for everyone else, so why would he want his own existence to end? Ultimately, it was a selfish opinion, but it was coming from the notion of self-preservation, and it that was normally the way it was for most people. Most would choose to live, to continue to exist with only the desperate or the hopeless wishing the opposite.  


    Fasendil narrowed his eyes in the direction the Argonian left, suddenly having a clue of where the stance was coming from and he felt sorry for the Argonian then. Which one are you lad, desperate or hopeless?  “I think I can,” he murmured, answering Aela’s question.



7 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 9 others like this.
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  July 1, 2018
    It's good read of Tieneeva after being mentioned a few times before. I'd say he's a bit troubled, maybe?
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  June 28, 2018
    Wahay, I remember this discussion. Feels kinda weird to see it pan out in a story and from the mouths of fictional characters. And damn it, I wanna know who outshot who!
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 28, 2018
    Yay! Teineeva writes! Perhaps we'll see some more Ledger Codex or our favorite Fallout baddie from Boston, Simon. 
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  June 27, 2018
    Wow, Teineeva's actually a philosopher. And I thought he was only good at marking names and counting kills.
    • Teineeva
      Wow, Teineeva's actually a philosopher. And I thought he was only good at marking names and counting kills.
        ·  June 27, 2018
      Oh, don't get me wrong; that is still his primary skill XD But yeah, I've hinted in his few short appearances that he isn't just a mercenary. This philosophical discussion is very closely related to that.
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  June 27, 2018
    Well, I wager that an end of the world would be original :D
    • Teineeva
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Well, I wager that an end of the world would be original :D
        ·  June 27, 2018
      In a world where kalpa's are a thing? I doubt that very much, every single end of the world would be foreseeable and would have happened before