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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Henry v. Keiper

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You should ask someone in the forum help section about that CAS error problem!
I just might. I've tried several things, and I don't get it. It worked on my laptop a few weeks, suddenly...nope.

Really nice AAR! Following this!
Thanks! Hope you keep enjoying it.

Update later today, as promised.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Chapter 3

“As the darkness grew, we fought it, and crafted walls to confine it, but we never could destroy it, for the source of the darkness was the same source as the source of our own divine inspiration.”

-- Vivec, from
The Battle of Red Mountain​

19 Sun’s Dawn, 450, 2E

For the past few weeks, Nethyn and Rythe, grandmaster and king, had been on their pilgrimage, going from shrine to shrine, according to The Pilgrim’s Path. There was the Shrine of Humility at the fields of Kuumuu, where Vivec supposedly plowed for a man whose guar had died; this was the first part of the path. Then there was the Shrine of Daring, in the city of Vivec near the Temple compound itself, and where Nethyn and Rythe left a potion of rising force, as was customary. Then there was the Shrine of Generosity, at Vivec’s Palace in the same city, where those who were heroes of war were honored, and where the two pilgrims each left a donation of 100 gold. Then there was the Shrine of Courtesy, which was located under the city of Vivec in the Puzzle Canal; here the two men almost got lost as they were trying to exit, but Nethyn managed to find their way out.

The fifth shrine to visit was the Shrine of Justice, found in the village of Gnisis, which was northwest of the Vvardenfell city of Ald’ruhn. This required the troupe to leave Vivec and head along the trails moving north, traveling through so many different kinds of scenes that Nethyn was amazed such diversity could exist on a single island. By the time they reached Ald’ruhn, they found a near inhospitable landscape, with ash covering the ground and the Red Mountain seen from not too far away. They decided to rest in the city before continuing, and began settled their provisions at the city’s tavern. By now, Rythe had taken to wearing plain robes over his king’s armor - the advice of his guards, who wished not to draw attention from potential assassins or bandits who might want to take a king hostage. They had especially been warned by the Temple of the Morag Tong - a sort of “legal” group of assassins who were openly used by many factions on the island to carry out assassinations and paid killings. There was some fear that someone aware of the high king’s presence on the island would readily contact the Morag Tong to make a contract murder...though Rythe had confided to Nethyn that it would not surprise him if the Temple hadn’t already done so, and were merely warning him to play innocent.


As the guards and retainers began to move their provisions indoors, and Rythe was escorted into one of the private rooms to keep him safe, Nethyn began to take a walk around the city. It was made up of the traditional Dunmer style of homes, with high rising rocks scattered along the city’s edge. This city was supposedly one of the largest settlements on the island, and there were certainly quite a lot of mer living on it: many of them Dunmer, but with some who looked like regular Dunmer, but in more traditional garb.

These, Nethyn decided, must be the Ashlanders.

This was the first time he had seen them, and, as others had said, they looked like any other Dunmer save for their dress and mannerisms, and perhaps their accents, which were quite distinct from the Dunmeri of the mainland. He was eager to go up and ask if any of them believed in this Nerevarine prophecy...but he knew better. He had been warned, by some in the city of Vivec, that the Temple had begun actively persecuting any and all who uphold this belief. It had been marked as a heresy, and its followers treated accordingly. Any Ashlander who confessed to Nethyn that he was of the Nerevarine party was automatically signing his death warrant. So it was that, for now, Nethyn held his tongue, and chose not to ask it of anyone...

...yet.

23 Sun’s Dawn, 450, 2E

After the Shrine of Justice, the grandmaster and king had continued their pilgrimage. The Shrine of Valor followed afterward, found in the Koal Cave south of Gnisis. The Ghostgate was the location of the last shrine to visit - specifically, the Shrine of Pride, a location which served, as The Pilgrim’s Path explained, “a lasting symbol of the indomitable will and power of ALMSIVI, and a monument to Dunmer pride in overcoming its enemies.” They had certain been overcome, but not defeated: the evil atop the mountain was contained by the Ghostfence, a magical barrier which went along in a circle around the mountain; the only entryway in or out being the Ghostgate, and this was guarded by Ordinators and Buoyant Armigers. Within the fence, set up by the Tribunal themselves, were all sorts of evil creatures, as well as the dreaded blight disease. There were many other pilgrims there as Rythe and Nethyn made their approach, though some seemed to have second thoughts about continuing on northeast of the Ghostgate to the Shrine of Pride. Nethyn and Rythe, with their guard, and following The Pilgrim’s Path advice about not straying “too far from the Ghostgate,” went on ahead without another thought. At the shrine, they placed the soul gems they had purchased, and left without another incident.


On the way out, Nethyn could not help but notice a quiet, old pilgrim laying against the entryway into the Ghostgate, keeping to himself. He was wearing drab robes over equipment that resembled what those who lived out in the Ashlands wore. He was crouched down, quietly whispering to himself, and clutching a gnarled branch that he seemed to be using as a cane. He was obviously attempting to keep to himself, and to hide the outfit underneath his robes, but there was no mistaking it for Nethyn: this man was an Ashlander.

The grandmaster quietly dismissed himself from his party, telling them that he would join them in a moment. He then went over to the old man, keeping some distance as he said in a low voice:

“Excuse me…”

The old man looked up, his red eyes starting to show the bright hint of cataracts, “Yes…?”

“Well, you must forgive my bluntness, but…” Nethyn glanced about, then asked in a lower voice, “Are you one who believes in the...Nerevarine?”

The old man furrowed his brow, then leaned into his cane, rising up and beginning to walk away, saying in a gruff voice, “You ask one as me such a question…you do injustice towards my age…”

“Please, forgive me,” Nethyn said, immediately following him, “please, believe me when I say I mean no harm - I swear I shall not tell the Temple.”

The old man stopped and turned towards Nethyn. With slow gestures of his eyes, he looked the grandmaster up and down, as if trying to ascertain his character from his entire demeanor. This action was done so slowly, and the old man’s lips seemed so tightly shut, that Nethyn expected he would simply wave his hand angrily and continue on. However, the bright red (almost pink) eyes of the elderly pilgrim soon softened, and his lips loosened. With a slow nod of his head, he turned towards the Ghostgate and sighed, looking up at the tall posts of the Ghostfence that went on and disappeared around the mountain. Nethyn could immediately tell that he had easily won the old man’s confidence. Had he truly won the man’s trust that he would not tell the Temple? Or did the old man suddenly decide that, having lived for so long (perhaps thousands of years in a Dunmeri lifespan), he was resigned as to whether one day or the next would be his last? Either way, the old man began to respond in a slow voice, crinkled with age:

“I was simply praying that Azura would keep this Ghostgate secure, despite the evil that set it up. I was praying that she would protect us in spite of their blasphemy.”

“Evil? Blasphemy?” Nethyn said. “You mean the ALMSEVI?”

“I do,” the old man said, turning to Nethyn, “it was they who killed the great captain Indoril Nerevar. They killed him because he opposed their path to immortality.”

“Nerevar died from his wounds fighting off Dagoth Ur, the traitor,” Nethyn replied, “that is what has always been told throughout history.”

The old man laughed, opening his eyes wide as he said, “Told by whom?

Suddenly, Nethyn was unsure of how to respond - let alone what to say. The old man seemed to sense Nethyn’s sudden muteness, and simply nodded his head again:

“The day will come, when Azura shall reveal the Incarnate. Then those that call themselves gods shall be seen as men, and all men shall once again worship the Daedra as our ancestors did...just as I remember we did…”

He sighed and turned, walking off, and limping against his stick as he did so. Nethyn watched him go, not saying anything or doing anything, let alone even showing any reaction upon his face. The entire conversation had caused him to pause momentarily, and question what he had heard up until that time. For certain he had always followed the Temple faith, but now he was beginning to ponder if there wasn’t at least something under the surface. After all, the Temple seemed eager to suppress, persecute, and silence anyone who dared question the authority of the ALMSEVI, let alone mentioned the Nerevarine prophecy. What was there to hide? Was it truly so dangerous that it had to be silenced? Why was it dangerous? Was it dangerous because it would open a pathway to evil? Or was it dangerous simply because it challenged the authority of the Temple? Was, therefore, the Nerevarine prophecy told according to truth?

A tap on the shoulder. Nethyn wheeled around with a start. One of high king’s retainers apologized, but the party was worried if they continued on any longer without Nethyn, they might lose him. The grandmaster sighed, waving his hand and apologizing, and followed the retainer back to the small caravan. He would have to put away, for now, any ponderings on the Nerevarine.

 

ATempler

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Interesting. The Battle of Red Mountain was 1E 416 and 1E lasted a full 2920 years. If this is 2E 450 then that Dunmer if he is 'remembering' the time of Daedra worship rather than the time immediately following when it was persecuted would be over 2960 years old at least (2954 from the Battle of Red Mountain to the present day, and another six years to be able to remember something influential and traumatic enough to be one of his first memories). There's a lot of conjecture about the lifespans of the different races but at nearly 3,000 years that Dunmer would be pretty far up there. One of the (or just THE) longest lived elves in history (Divayth Fyr) was four thousand and was a master sorcerer who had probably prolonged his own life immeasurably given that he had been able to clone female versions of himself (discounting the possibility that has cloned himself repeatedly as he nears death to prolong his existence if not his bodies capacity for life.)

If he is that old then he's either blessed in some divine way, is a powerful sorcerer, or particularly lucky. Assuming he isn't an incarnation of Nerevar himself appearing to meet Nethyn as an incarnation of Tiber Septim appeared to meet the Nerevarine.
 

iisbroke

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This is freaking amazing!
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Interesting. The Battle of Red Mountain was 1E 416 and 1E lasted a full 2920 years. If this is 2E 450 then that Dunmer if he is 'remembering' the time of Daedra worship rather than the time immediately following when it was persecuted would be over 2960 years old at least (2954 from the Battle of Red Mountain to the present day, and another six years to be able to remember something influential and traumatic enough to be one of his first memories). There's a lot of conjecture about the lifespans of the different races but at nearly 3,000 years that Dunmer would be pretty far up there. One of the (or just THE) longest lived elves in history (Divayth Fyr) was four thousand and was a master sorcerer who had probably prolonged his own life immeasurably given that he had been able to clone female versions of himself (discounting the possibility that has cloned himself repeatedly as he nears death to prolong his existence if not his bodies capacity for life.)

If he is that old then he's either blessed in some divine way, is a powerful sorcerer, or particularly lucky. Assuming he isn't an incarnation of Nerevar himself appearing to meet Nethyn as an incarnation of Tiber Septim appeared to meet the Nerevarine.
Interesting calculation. I didn't have an exact age in mind, though I knew he'd be very old, and that some mer/elves in Tamriel did indeed live into the thousands of years.

Perhaps he'll make an appearance later on...admittedly I didn't intend on it, but... :p

That dude is old if he lived so long ago (according to ATempler), however, the plot thickens and I shall wait eagerly for the continuation. :)
I'll probably update this Wednesday.

This is freaking amazing!
Thanks! :D I think.
 
Last edited:

Henry v. Keiper

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Chapter 4

"We are children of the Twilight. Beings who are to be guided from the darkness into the light. And from the light into darkness."

-- Aranea Ienith, Priestess of Azura

6 First Seed, 450, 2E

It had been a while since the royal caravan had left the Ghostgate. All the while, they had been discussing their sights and discoveries along the way. Much of it was theological in nature, as well as the history of the Dunmeri people. Rythe especially seemed interested in his role within it all. As the troupe marched along the roads, ignoring the muck and mud that often seeped up through the ground with each step, as well as the abysmal terrain they had found to take up most of southern Vvardenfell, they spoke on the Tribunal, the Temple, and the state of politics in Morrowind itself.

“I can’t help but wonder,” high king Rythe began one day, “if the Tribunal would be so supportive of the Temple at times if I didn’t march into Vivec city myself and declare it protected by my own arms?”

“Wouldn’t the Tribunal oppose you in that?” Nethyn asked.

Rythe laughed, “They haven’t opposed me so far, have they? And with that dunderhead Farwil on the seat of the Temple, I think they would find me a proper change. Who knows, perhaps Almalexia would like my company on the island’s colder nights.”

The rather crude reference to Amalexia caught Nethyn off guard, but he merely smiled and nodded. The high king did not notice the grandmaster’s temporary loss of countenance, and continued speaking:

“And Vivec, of course, perhaps I could have him explain some of these more ponderous riddles he’s written in his-”

“Your highness?”

It was one of the retainers. He had been clutching his sword at his side, and had just tapped the king on the shoulder. Rythe turned around, rather upset he had been pulled from what he believed to be a good conversation, but softened his expression when he saw the retainer appeared very serious and was pointing to their east. When the grandmaster and king looked in that direction, they saw a rising hill, with the tall mushrooms and tall rocks common in this part of the island scattered about thickly. The fog had descended, causing everything to be wet or dripping dew. Despite this, it was not hard to make out the movement of shapes not too far away, past several patches of tall mushrooms far ahead...shapes resembling tall, dangerous looking men.

“How many?” the king asked, lowering his voice - all humor in it had been instantly taken away.

“Possibly twenty, maybe more,” the retainer replied, “they’ve been following us for a while.”

“What can you make out, grandmaster?” Rythe asked Nethyn.

Nethyn peered his eyes, trying hard to visualize what was shifting through that fog. Despite the fact that the figures were mere shadows, given their distance and the thickness of the mist, he could see some clear, distinguishing features that made the figures different from one another.

“Nords, and Orsimer, by the look of them,” Nethyn replied, “that is all.”

“There are only ten of us altogether,” the retainer said, motioning to the rest of the troupe, “do we stand and fight, your majesty, or do we try to push for the next town?”

“They’re too close,” Rythe said, slowly drawing his own sword from his scabbard, “they’ll be upon us in no time...we stand here. Besides, I think they’ve noticed.”

Sure enough, the group of bandits had seen how the party had stopped along the trail, and was looking in their direction. They knew that their cover was blown, and that their potential prey seemed to be preparing for any attack.

“Have you ever fought in a battle before, Nethyn?” the high king asked as he drew back his cloak, wrapping his gloved fingers around the hilt of his sword.

Nethyn looked nervously to the king, then to the figures up on the hill, “No, sire…”

“Then you are lucky,” the king declared, “for today, you shed Outlander blood!”


Trusting in their brute force, the bandits pulled out their maces and battle axes and charged forward. They let out a collective shout that sent a chill up Nethyn’s spine, and suddenly made him realize just what was happening. They were in battle. They were being attacked. They were being attacked by men who would probably kill them for any little thing they could take from them. Nethyn had never been in a real battle before - especially against a larger party, and one bent on his death.

The few mages in the troupe acted first: one cast fire, another cast lightning, and both found their targets, burning or shocking a bandit to death. The other Dunmer drew their swords, charging forward, meeting the bandits as they came charging down the hill. Rythe was the first to strike, ducking as a Nord swung an axe at his head, then driving his sword hilt-deep into the Nord’s belly. He pulled it out just in time to swing and decapitate an orc that was coming at him from behind. The king’s men proved to be capable fighters, and though they broke a sweat in the fight, they still held their own. The mages continued to take down some of additional bandits, whittling the numerical advantage little by little.

Immediately in the battle, Nethyn found himself face to face with an orc carrying a hefty, two-handed mace. The beast swung at the Dunmer’s side, as if attempting to gash him in the ribs. Nethyn held up his sword and placed his palm against the flat end. The head of the mace struck the blade against the flat side, bending it from sheer power. The orc attempted to pull back and try again, but Nethyn quickly swung, moving the sharp end of the blade along the fur armor of his opponent. Despite the bend in the blade, the sword was still sharp enough to slice through, causing the orc some pain. Nethyn then swung down, driving his weapon right into the orc’s chest. The beast was struck right in the heart and fell instantly.

To Nethyn’s dismay, however, his sword had become fastened into the orc’s chest, caught in the rib cage. He tried to frantically pull on the handle, but to no avail. It was stuck. At that moment, he heard the king call his name and looked up. A smaller Nord had appeared, and swung one of his two axes at the Dunmer’s head.

Nethyn was struck hard on the side of his face and fell. His head landed hard on a patch of dirt. That was the last thing he remembered before everything went black.

It happened too quickly. There was no chance for him to say anything, or give parting words, let alone even think. Yet as the blackness quickly overcame him, and he found himself overcome by shadow, it suddenly fell upon Nethyn that he might be dead. It was a strange sensation, for he was uncertain how to feel about it. It was simply as if a sudden reality had been revealed to him, one that was merely part of his being. It was as if he was simply who he had been all along - a member of the void, a child of the darkness. He had come from the dark womb and was now being cast into the darkness of the grave. Would he be raised by his family to guard his tomb? Would he be remembered as a hero? He did not know, but at the moment he could not care. At the moment, he was coming to grips with the darkness all about him...the darkness that had engulfed him and become part of his very being.

This is it, then, his thoughts said, though how they existed he did not know, I am dead. I will never again see my homeland...

“You are not dead,” said a voice. It was a distinctly female voice, and one all too familiar. In a moment, Nethyn realized just where he had heard it before - it was the same voice he had heard in Vivec City, referring to the Ministry of Truth. It was the voice that had spoken of their children being locked away in the Ministry of Truth.

“Who are you?” Nethyn asked openly, though again, it was difficult to ascertain how he had done so, for he could not feel his lips moving, or feel his voice leave his throat. “I have heard your voice before.”

“The Queen of the Twilight, of the Dusk, and the Dawn, of the Period of Transition,” the voice continued.

It was then that a light appeared before Nethyn, though how it appeared was something altogether strange to him. It was as if his eyes were opening, and yet it was also as if the sun was rising. It was as if he were opening his eyelids, and this ability was permitting a sun to shine light onto the world. This only happened to an extent, however, as something did not permit the light to shine too bright, nor for the “eyes” to open as fully as they could. It was then that Nethyn realized he was gazing at twilight, but this twilight was existing only so far as his eyes had been permitted to open.

Then, without any warning, a female figure appeared. She appeared before the light, as if she was apart from it, and yet the soft glow behind her seemed to highlight her body all the more. She had a round hat upon her head, and robes that draped down her feminine body, with fabric cascading down under her arms, rising back up to tie around her wrists. In her right hand she held aloft the moon, softly emanating light in a crescent shape. In her left hand, she held the sun, rotating slowly and glowing a bright, golden color.


“I shall spare you from death,” she said to Nethyn, “for I shall use you. Go to your own country, to your own kindred, and to your own house. From there, I shall educate and edify you. You will grow in knowledge and understanding of the things that must be. This will happen by my mercy, and my love. You shall be used by me to return my people to their glory, though they have forsaken me. They have gone and worshiped that which pretend to be gods, and forgotten about the generations who I led out of the Somerset Isles, into their new homeland. Yet they will return to the worship of the true Tribunal, and they shall worship as their ancestors worshiped, and do away with their transgressions. Their fathers are dead, but yet shall they live, through their life devoted towards me anew. And you shall be my instrument for seeing this begun...I spare you now, not to glorify you, but to show my love for my people…”

And then, in an instance, blackness returned. The woman, the light, the moon and the star...they were all gone. What Nethyn could sense, however, were all his natural senses returning. He let out a soft groan, and heard a familiar voice not too far away:

“Thank the merciful ALMSEVI! He’s awake!”

Slowly, Nethyn opened his eyes. He saw that he was in a room somewhere, and was surrounded by some of the retainers in his traveling party. Looking down at him from above the bed was Rythe, grinning and patting his shoulder:

“You had me worried out there, Hlaalu grandmaster! I must say, you took the axe to the face better than most men do a rebuke.”

Nethyn suddenly realized that there was a sharp pain on his face. He lifted up his hand, feeling the bandages wrapped around the side of his head, and felt a stinging sensation from his forehead down to his chin. As his mind gradually returned into an awakened state, he could only figure out that he was somewhere safe, that the battle against the bandits had been won, and he was now being tended to.


“The bandits,” Nethyn began, stammering a bit in his pain, “did they take anything?”

“No, they’re all dead,” Rythe said, “we showed them not to mess with a Dunmeri king. You were the only one wounded, my friend - quite early in the battle, I might add.”

It was an obvious jab at Nethyn’s expense. In past times, Nethyn might have responded with a friendly jab back, or some snide remark, or at least felt a little bitter. Not this time, however. Now, something else happened...namely, nothing happened. He felt no anger, no offense, and simply smiled back at his high king. In a low voice, he said:

“I shall have to train in my combat, I’m afraid. Thank Azura for that revelation.”

“Thank Azura?” Rythe said, raising an eyebrow and looking about. “Careful, Nethyn, we’re in Vivec. You know how nervous those priests are...they might think you’re a Nerevarine or something. I don’t want to be forced to kill bandits and Farwil in one day...that’ll offend the bandits.”

In truth, Nethyn was not certain why he had said “thank Azura.” When he was in a good mood, he would sometimes say “Thank the ALMSEVI,” especially if religious friends were around to impress them. However, without even another thought, he had thanked Azura. Why? Was it because of that dream he had just had?

No, it wasn’t a dream - it couldn’t have been. It felt real, and yet it didn’t. Was it truly Azura who had spoken to him? Had Azura, the Daedric Prince of old, truly told Nethyn that he would be her instrument?

“Are you alright?”

It was Rythe again. The grandmaster grinned at the king, giving a small nod as he whispered, “Yes, I think the bump in the head just made me a bit delirious for a moment.”
 

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Chapter 5

“In short, what is to be known [of Daedra] is little, and what is to be trusted is nothing.”

-- From
Varieties of Daedra​

15 Heartfire, 450, 2E

Nethyn had returned to Narsis by 24 First Seed, some three weeks after the incident with the bandits, and was more than happy to be home. The priests at the Temple had been able to stop the bleeding, but the wound had gone so deep that it was inevitable a scar would be left. Indeed, many of the priests commented that Nethyn was very lucky, and that they had never known anyone to take so bad a blow to the face with an axe and come out alive. In some ways, he had a sort of memorial from his time in Vvardenfell, and which everyone could plainly see once he returned to the Great Hall.

It was not simply his physical appearance that had shocked everyone, however - something had happened to his character. He was much more humble now, and spoke to most as if they were on his level. Even the lowliest servants of the hall, or the Dunmer on the lowest echelons of the House hierarchy, were treated as equals by Nethyn. Most of all, his love for money, or anything that can produce more of it, became visibly absent. The steward was nervous to explain to his grandmaster that, since his pilgrimage, little had been collected by way of taxes or trade, but Nethyn would simply smile and nod, and tell his steward that, so long as the coffers were not becoming empty, that was fine.


High King Rythe went through with his proposed plan to increase training standards for Morrowind’s forces, and asked Nethyn to assist him in convincing the other lords of the realm. Having already done it in his own realm, Nethyn gladly obliged, and to the best of his ability, explaining the training and tenacity of the ordinators on Vvardenfell. This seemed to be enough, and by the end of Last Seed of that yet the nobles had agreed to accept the king’s plan.


The king was so ecstatic by this that he offered Nethyn a job as court chaplain for the entire realm. The grandmaster was at first hesitant to accept such a duty, as he felt that there were more qualified people for the position - even suggesting his own court chaplain, Athyn. Rythe, however, was adamant about Nethyn for the position, and explained that he felt they shared a lot of religious opinions. Nethyn finally accepted, and was sent by the High King to the province of Narthan, just south of the Morrowind capitol of Mournhold.

Narthan, and the provinces about it, had been seduced nearly in toto by the Cult of Sheogorath, which centers its worship around the Daedric Prince of Madness. Sheogorath was one of the four Daedric Princes called the “Four Corners of the House of Troubles” (or just “Four Corners” for short), who were considered rebels to the Tribunal and hence tempters of the Dunmer as a whole. He was known to be worshiped by the Khajit - a strange cat people on the southern end of Tamriel - where they knew him as a “Skooma Cat” (whatever that meant), but given the opposition to him by the ALMSEVI faithful, such worship was strictly forbidden. It was now Nethyn’s duty to take care of it.


Unfortunately, Nethyn soon found the task very difficult. The cult had a very strong presence, and seemed resistant to any attempt or means for their conversion. At one point, Nethyn actually called a large group of people together, beginning to preach the mercy and power of the ALMSEVI. At each argument and point, however, the people became more and more angry, shouting insults and rebukes. Soon the entire mob began to chant, “Madness is mercy! Madness is mercy!” Nethyn was quite certain if the king’s men had not been present, he would have surely been torn to bits.

The truth of the matter was, Nethyn knew deep down inside why his attempts were failing: he did not believe what he was preaching. He had once heard a story of a Dwemer who was going to listen to a Dunmer saint preach, and when reminded that he did not believe what the Dunmer was preaching, the Dwemer smiled and said, “Yes, but he does.” This was certainly not the case with Nethyn. When he spoke of the ALMSEVI and their mercy, or love, or power, he found himself having deep doubts brewing inside his heart. Were the ALMSEVI truly powerful because of their being, or because of what they had stolen? If they had stolen this power, did this make the power temporal or circumstantial? In that case, were they truly worth being worshiped?

Finally, just as the grandmaster was feeling at his wit’s end, he wrote to his court chaplain Athyn, begging him to come to Narthan. This the chaplain did willingly, greeting his grandmaster in his quarters and retiring with him to a private room.

“Have you ever questioned your faith, in anything?” Nethyn asked near the beginning of their conversation.

“Every priest does,” Athyn replied, “at some point in their lives.”

“Have you ever questioned the power of that which is divine?” Nethyn asked.

Athyn shrugged, “Fleeting thoughts, I suppose - but I never entertain them. The Dwemer did, that is why they were punished. Or so some legends say.”

Nethyn let out a sigh, getting up from his chair as he moved towards a window, staring out into the open area before his quarters and most of the nearby village. The clouds had grown dark, and it had begun to rain, with some thunder heard in the background. It was sometimes believed that Sheogorath could be summoned, or even worshiped, during such conditions, and Nethyn had no doubt that the people were probably summoning Sheogorath just to have a laugh at his expense.

“There are questions in me,” Nethyn continued, “I experienced things in Vvardenfell I did not expect to experience. Did you know that the Temple oppresses the people to silence any contrary thought?”

“I did,” Athyn said, sighing, “and I know they often are cruel and corrupt. Perhaps I should have warned you that oftentimes the men in robes are as savage as the savages they seek to convert? Forgive me for that.”

Nethyn shook his head, gazing up at the dark clouds rolling over them, patches of lightning starting to strike, “No need to apologize, dear Athyn. I am glad I discovered it. Yet so much I learned on that island has caused me to question what I have been told. I have begun to wonder if I am truly worshiping that which is divine, or that which is mortal made.”

“Do not forget,” Athyn said, standing up and walking towards his grandmaster, “that the divine often uses mortals, imperfect as they are, for what they require. That can be humbling.”

“You are right,” Nethyn said, crossing his arms. In the back of his mind, he thought of telling Athyn of the vision of Azura that he had witnessed - maybe even what the old Ashlander had told him. However, he considered against this: he had promised the Ashlander he would not tell anyone, and no other vision of Azura had appeared to him since that time. Surely it had just been a delirious vision brought about by the bump on the head, and mixed with everything he had read and learned in the pilgrimage up until that time. Yet all the same, it same too real for a mere dream.

It was Athyn that broke the silence, “Grandmaster...if I may be so bold, I heard a rumor that you...offered me to be the king’s court chaplain, rather than you.”

Nethyn blinked his red eyes, turning to face Athyn, “Well...yes, that is correct.”

“And that you were speaking highly of me?”

“Yes, Athyn, I was.”


Athyn grinned broadly, from ear to ear. He fell to his knees, took his grandmaster’s hand, and kissed it gently, “Thank you, my lord! Thank you! It was so flattering to hear of this! I did not expect this from you, and I thank you so much for your gratitude!”

Nethyn patted Athyn on the head, replying in a calm voice, “No no, it is I who am grateful. Thank Azura for you and all your hard work, Athyn.”

There it was again. Thank Azura. It came right out, without another thought. Athyn, however, did not seem too affected by it, merely nodding and saying:

“Yes, bless the anticipation of Sotha Sil - and all the ALMSEVI, bless their names.”

That was not what Nethyn meant, but he let it go at just that.
 

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It's good his chaplain came to his aid. Otherwise his failure might have led to some unfortunate questions.
Azura providentially sends people his way...even if they don't honor her. The chaplain's own words were somewhat fitting of him, when you think about it.

Nethyn needs to learn to check his tongue. Not everyone is going to react so well.
True that...he gets more prudent in the next few updates. ;)
 
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