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An Interview with Valilenya Elsinaan

Tags: #Phil  #RP Interview  #Tenebrous 
  • Member
    May 22, 2019

    This interview I had with Tenebrous and his character, Valilienya Elsinaan, is a slight departure from previous projects in that it's very meta-game. I'll let Tenebrous explain :D

    Onto the interview...

    I'd heard a rumour that a young, wealthy Altmer lass had taken up residence nearby. Curious to know more, I thought of a very quick excuse to go visit her and now find myself outside her door. It's a nice house, similar to the ones I'd seen in Elder Scrolls Online in places like Phaer or Mathiisen - white/grey walls, tall, arched windows and roof, with the pavement leading to the house surrounded on either side by the prettiest and most fragrant garden. I knocked on the immaculately-polished door which was opened in short order.

    As described, to me, the figure in the doorway was young, her face angular but pretty. A lithe-yet-muscular figure. Authoritative, yet just barely an adult even by human standards. Above-average height for a High Elf, and very pleasing on the eye.  I smiled, "hi, sorry to intrude. I was wondering if you had any onions. I ran out, you see, and need one for my soup. Would you be able to lend me an onion?"

    The Altmer blinked, frowned, opened her mouth and closed it it quick succession. She was visibly shocked, and seemed to be trying to find something to say about the sudden appearance of this man. A few seconds passed. "I think I have onions." she finally responded weakly.
    Time around the house seemed to "pause" for a second, everyone not her or Paws freezing. She looked to her left, and spoke to the empty space. "Damn it, Ian, I said give me time to prepare!"

    "Oh, I'm sorry. Did I interrupt something? I suppose I could go to the grocer but, last I heard, he had the flu and was indisposed."

    Vaali looked back, visibly deciding she gave up on trying to make sense of things. "I can spare an onion, sure." she responded tiredly.

    "You are most gracious, thank you so much! I must say, I love what you've done with the place. My name's Paws by the way, pleased to meet you. Is Ian your brother?"

    Vaali gestured vaguely to indicate he could enter. "Ah, no. He's, kind of... Well you see..." She paused. Another man had entered. He was tall, somewhat overweight, and wore spectacles.
    "He-llooooo!" he exclaimed theatrically. Vaali pointed at him. "He's that one. He calls himself Tenebrous, but his real name is Ian." She sniffled. "And no, Ian, I will not call you 'Lord Ian Oopartus, Monarch of the Coffee Pot.' That's ridiculous, and I refuse to believe it's real."

    "Hey there dude! Yeah, we've met. He's a mate. Didn't know you were the coffee king, though, so that makes two of us! Vaali, Ian's mentioned you briefly and I wanted a chance to get to know you and your story a bit better, hence the onion-borrowing thing."

    "You should've opened with that, then!" Vaali admonished. "Damn it, now I've made myself the fool in front of everyone reading this. What would dear Father say if he saw me like that?" Tenebrous cleared his throat. "Any-how." he said, interrupting the elf's angsting. "I think that would be lovely, Paws."

    "My apologies, I got nervous. I wasn't sure if Ian would be home... But no, you're not coming across as foolish in any way, so please don't think that. You mentioned your father, Vaali, would you mind telling me more about him? What does he do for a living?"

    Vaali nodded. "Ah yes. Despite the fact that Tenebrous is my creator--as in, the author of my existence--I do have memories of life before I "met" him. Which is actually when I was created. Retro-active or what have you. Anyways, my father is Torillimarco Elsinaan, the current head of the Elsinaan family and shipping company. We're quite wealthy; our family made its' name with the transport of magical, often volatile magical goods, which we take great pains to secure. He was a good father--only a tad distant due to his work, but he always made sure to keep in touch via letters or occasional projection-conversations."

    "It sounds like a risky enterprise! Good to know, though and I'll know who to see when I next need magical items transported. Not that there's much call for that in my day-to-day, alas. You use the word 'was' - are you estranged from your father and family?"

    Vaali hums a bit. "Not quite estranged, no. They disapproved of me going off to adventure and all that, but the goodbyes were amicable. We stay in touch."

    "Good! And that was going to be my next question - what do you do and why are you so far from home. I'll go ahead and ask it anyway because the life of an adventurer is a fascinating one. How to phrase it... Are you a warrior or some sort of mage?"

    "Far more of a mage type of combatant." Vaali says, calmer now. She serves herself some Syrah wine into  a goblet, taking a sip. "That being said, I'm a battlemage first and foremost. The more scholarly and esoteric aspects of spellcraft is... Well, boring to me."

    "See, that I can understand. I was worried you were going to tell me you're a necromancer. Can't move for them these days! I'm not really all that into magic in fantasy or Elder Scrolls but I imagine I'd enjoy the more practical applications. Battlemages are the coolest sort of mages, for sure. Can you tell me of your recent adventures? Have you managed to avoid being caught up in the Three Banners War?"

    "Yes, I've managed to avoid the war until now." she says with a half-grin. "As for some previous adventures..." She hesitated, then looked to Tenebrous, who had been spending the entire time reading some book filled with imagery, by some writer called "Marvel Comics". He spoke up, "I don't really think I want to expand on those just yet." he said sheepishly.

    "That's fair, Ian, it would be a bit spoiler-y. Well there goes my inside scoop! Back to the War, then: 'Until now'? Something has happened recently to drag you into the conflict, I assume. Care to elaborate? And feel free to share your thoughts on Queen Ayrenn while you're at it. Was opening the borders of Summerset a good thing in your opinion?"

    Vaali nodded. "Yes, indeed. According to Tenebrous, I am at least partially following the normal progression of the "baseline", so whatever it is that introduces the character in my position to the war is, at least to some degree, what will introduce me. As for Queen Ayrenn, I find myself torn. On the one hand, her views on the other races are solid; our woodland cousins and the Khajiit are worthwhile allies, and the races of Men, while misguided, are not inherently evil in my eyes. And Summerset's exposure to other peoples could be a boon, if allowed." She sighed. "On the other hand, she's far too young for a queen. Too young, and too reckless. She's actually similar to me in many regards; and Xarxes knows I'm not queen material."

    "I see. It must be quite confusing to talk about things that haven't happened yet but will at some point. Your thoughts make a lot of sense - we're all stronger with friends, but Ayrenn's youth has been a huge obstacle in her reign so far. People find it hard to take her seriously. Yet you Altmer are all so authoritative and serious, even as youths. Do you find people don't take you seriously due to your age? I imagine, too, that the family business benefitted from the borders being opened. It must be good for trade if nothing else, no?"

    "Hah! Trade is flourishing, yes." Vaali said, sipping the last of the wine in her goblet. She serves herself a little more before continuing. "Anyhow, yes, we Altmer take age very seriously. While plenty of us are quite proper even as youths--myself included, pardon the vanity--we are still youths, not as experienced as our elders. Ayrenn is a fine warrior, but she hasn't the experience to lead an entire people. Much less three."

    "I bet it is thriving - that's some fine looking wine you're supping! You raise an interesting point about age, too. From what I've seen playing through Summerset and even the base game, ancestry and age takes a central role in high elven culture with expected paths to follow based on your position in the kinhouse. I imagine you were expected to take over the family business. Do you have any brothers or sisters? I also noted your mention of Xarxes, which is fitting to reference now we talk about ancestry. Are you a religious mer?"

    "I was expected to marry some important mer, I'd presume. My sister is the one set to inherit the company; she's the eldest, and her grasp of mercantile pursuits is rather unnatural." She pauses, staring into her goblet. "I honestly don't know if I consider myself religious. On the one hand, I know the Aedra actually do exist. On the other hand, I know that they're just as invented as everything else in Tamriel. I believe that's why many who get to CHIM become as gods; they understand how to make things different."

    "Wow, that got deep very quickly. Do you consider yourself among those who have attained CHIM? I mean, you're seeing beyond the things you're meant to see - you can see the Tower, the "I" yet also acknowledge the "We" in that you are a figment of   Ian's imagination which, in turn, is a piece of the setting. You haven't zero-summed, at least not yet, so that's something. Can you explain what you're experiencing - how does it feel? Also, can you re-jungle Cyrod and troll the pvpers there for shits and giggles?"

    Vaali smiled. "I think I've gotten... Near CHIM, but all the way there. As you said, I've not zero-summed, obviously. But I can't re-jungle Cyrodiil, for instance, or ensure Elven victory in this war. I can't add to the Dream. It's more... I guess an 'awareness' of your world. The world beyond my own. And that insight grants me unique attributes, to be sure. I'm not a normal mer anymore, and I'm alright with that, but I can't start re-writing things. At least, not directly." She blinks. "Also, I fail to see what turning into a troll has to do with Cyrodill, nor how it will affect any "Pee-Vee-Peers". Whatever in Phynaster's strut that is."

    "Haha, that's humorous! But insightful, too. You're aware of the limits in what you can do, and perceive the boundaries without breaking anything. Do you have any desire to eventually affect change  on such a scale and progress on this path? More down to earth (or Nirn, whatever), does your awareness help you in your adventurous pursuits?"

    Vaali hummed a bit. "I'm not certain." she says after a bit. "Unlike most others who get to this state, I never worked towards it; I didn't even know it existed until I met Tenebrous. I don't know if I will ever do such major re-writes, so to speak, simply because I never imagined CHIM was even a concept. It does help with adventuring, though. For one thing, I benefit from... Ian called it "gameplay mechanics". I recover from injuries extraordinarily quickly, and can't seem to ever die fully--rather, when I die, I just wake back up to before I was killed, and can proceed as such." Vaali grinned at Tenebrous, who was now fiddling with some rectangular device that shone at him. "Also, I never need to worry about food or supplies or whatnot."

    "I imagine that is very helpful indeed! Especially the dying and waking back up thing. Do you retain the knowledge of that encounter? I guess you must. So you're effectively immortal and exist now until Ian decides otherwise. Yet even then you will continue to exist, your influence waxing and waning as an idea and as and when you're in conscious thought - much like some believe the deities of Tamriel behave based on followers and worship. So I wonder, if one of us (someone other than Ian) were to create a Vaalilenya Elsinaan in our version of your world, would you experience some of what that version of you experiences, do you suppose?"

    Vaali is silent for a bit. Suddenly, Tenebrous pipes up, "The answer is no, she wouldn't. She is pretty much a variation of the baseline role of the Vestige; you can have another Vestige called Vaalilenya in your world, or maybe another person entirely is your Vestige, or maybe your Vaalilenya is not the Vestige. This specific incarnation of her is separate from other possible protagonists, regardless of similarities." He grins, and sips his coffee. "The really interesting bit would be if you use my story as a jump-off point for yours. Then, your specific character--Vaali or otherwise--would be the same one as in my story, up until the chronological point where you split. And don't get me started on areas open to interpretation..."

    "That is intriguing. So theoretically, if this was an in-universe interview and I was not me but rather Sir Paws, I could leave this room and house, but still your version of Vaali exists in my world? What happens if I return to this house and room? Is she still your version of the Vestige? Also, what would happen if I were to create a Vaali and pose her with her arms crossed with a sceptical look on her face, screencap that look, then caption it "uh huh" in order to use whenever someone tells a tall tale? What if another uses that same image in a similar scenario and she becomes a meme, a recurring idea used to express scepticism? Would the core idea of Vaali change in your mind?"

    "My Vaali would probably remain the same in case of memetification. But then, that doesn't make other Vaali(s) any less real. They just aren't the one in my story." Vaali groaned, having finished the glass. "I think I may need something heavier than Syrah wine to deal with this..."

    "Yeah... We may have gotten a bit carried away there. When we're talking about a game which acknowledges that the characters we play in that game know we're playing a game, it's easy to go off and explore the limits of that. Like a 'I know that you know that I know that you know' sort of thing. Factor in the MMO aspect of this particular game and we have a paradigm in which there is only one Vestige but millions of people playing their own versions of it... Cheese for everyone! Something more tangible, then. We talked briefly about religion, so how about Daedrology? What's your feelings on Daedra and Principalities? I hear everyone has their own favourite Prince, who is yours?"

    Vaali sighed. "Ah, the Daedra. I thankfully can say I've not had enough experience with them to have strong feelings. I do know they're extreme, and evil in many regards."

    "That's understandable. To paraphrase an NPC in TESIV, Daedra Lords exist. They do things. Bad things, mostly.  Anyway, I sense I've taken up up enough of your time. Ian, are there any subjects you'd like to explore before I leave you both in peace? We've covered a bit of politics, touched upon religion, discussed Vaali's background, and went off-grid with metaphysics once or twice. More to talk about, to be sure, but I notice Vaali's wine bottle is running low."

    "I don't think so, no." Tenebrous said, smiling. "Do stay tuned for more content involving Vaalilenya in the future though, dear readers! And thanks for your time!" Vaali likewise smiles. "Indeed. May as well embrace the fact I have an audience during my travels. Do stay tuned, as Tenebrous is wont to say!"

    And with that I took my leave of Valilenya and Ian, turning my steps to home with an unexpected craving for onions.