Speaker’s Journal, Entry 1-1: The Hangover

Speaker_NoArmor

Speaker To Animals
Khajiit Nightblade

(Beingness blurred, alternate existences winking in and out, choices so many choices. Races, alliances, shifting, changing, taller, lanky, patterns, does the nose have to be so pink?, no not dreads are you insane?, not a tank more a scout, the thrill of naming, Done!)

I came to with my head pounding and a weird, nagging feeling of something missing. Something I’d forgotten or misplaced or, no, cut away, and still painful around the edges.  I could feel stone under my cheek and a chill in the air.  Even without opening my eyes, I could tell: it must have been a hell of a party.

Must have, right? I was traveling with the caravan, on my way to the Summerset Isles to catch up to my parents and their trade delegation from Elsweyr. We camped for the night, there was food and ale and moon sugar and I’d stumbled into the night to take care of some business and then… Sudden flash of pain in my head, the ground coming up to meet me, blurry people in robes torches ropes a dagger pain in my chest screaming ripping

{How do you feel? Can you move?}

The voice broke through the seizure, and I bolted upright, heart pounding. A cave? A couple of burning braziers, filthy fur pallets. The floor grungy and garbage strewn, the walls soot-stained. Bones, human from the look of them — they were flat faced and too squat for the elven folk (though the Bosmer folk looked more human, those wood elves’ skulls were still longer).  There was no one else here, but there was a gate at the opening, perhaps the voice had come from outside.  I climbed shakily to my feet and staggered over to it, but it didn’t budge when I pushed. I couldn’t see a keyhole, but this was started to feel unpleasantly like a cell.  Not my first time in one of these — adolescent pranks aren’t always beloved. But the bones were troubling.

ColdharborCell

I had a kind of nagging hunger, that feeling of something missing manifesting as a hole in my gut that really wanted filling.  There was a plate with a wedge of cheese on the step before the gate; I’m not a fan of eating food whose provenance is unknown, but in this case… it was as nasty as one would expect from unidentified cheese left out on the floor, and did nothing for that nagging hunger.  Rummaging about, I found a couple of wilted radishes, that I tucked into a pocket of the threadbare prison garments I seemed to be wrapped in. There was nothing else in the room that was useful; I suppose a couple of the bones could be used as clubs, but my claws would be far more effective. Craning to see through the bars of the gate, I could only discern a large cavern beyond, and maybe a hint of other gates, but no sign of people.  I could hear a distant din of yelling, though, and it seemed like it was getting louder.

Rug Merchant GhostAt the swirl of blue light over my right shoulder, I jumped back. The image of a man formed, an old human in a cowled robe, with a staff, looking calm but worn, and strained.

{Slowly now. You’ve been through an ordeal. Take a few moments to collect yourself.}

The voice was the same as the one that had brought me to myself a few moments before. But I heard it in my head, not through my ears, and the vision’s lips did not move. Was it a ghost? It seemed to be waiting for some response from me, so I tentatively spoke, “What’s happening? Who are you?” My, so deft with language I am; my Khajiit teachers would be embarrassed by their pupil, who could not craft even a simple witticism from that question. I sound like a Nord all confused without something to beat to death with a metal club. “I’m hung over,” I whined to the teachers in my head. “Give me a minute!” They waited, with disapproving glares.

{Like you, I am a prisoner in this place, yet so much more.}

Ah ha! A prisoner. I was right, this is a cell. A cell with bones in it. Perhaps this is the ghost of one of those skeletons? I quickly ran through the things that I had disturbed in my rummaging, in case he was some of them. I did not think so, but ghosts have strange views of vengeance. I tensed for his attack, readying my claws to rake futilely at his ectoplasm before my ignominious demise.

{I am the past and the future both. I am despair, and hope. The tapestry we weave is a complex one. You cannot hope to see its pattern in its entirety. Not yet.}

Certainly this ghost is mad. A mad rug merchant, driven to haunt the cell in which he was left to rot by jailers fearful of his dementia. Why did they put me in this cursed cell, what could I have done to deserve such a fate? Perhaps, since he was a merchant, I could bargain with him. “What do you want from me?” I asked. Perhaps a mad rug merchant ghost knows a way that a mortal could escape?

{You must rescue me. And I, in turn, must rescue you. You must escape from this cell, take up arms, and protect yourself. Then, find Lyris Titanborn.}

Well, escape sounded good.  I was not sure how I could rescue a mad ghost, but if this confused creature and this Lyris chap could help me with that, I’d return the favor.  This cat pays his debts. “Lyris Titanborn? Who is that? I don’t understand…”

I was going to say, “I don’t understand how I’m supposed to escape this cell, could you help a fellow prisoner out, there?” But the ghost faded before I could finish. This is what comes of relying upon spirits: all full of “Woe to thee!” and “My doom upon thee!” and “Buy these sweet carpets!” but when push comes to shove they’re just a bit of vapor or a badly digested bit of potato. Never there when you need them.

I started to look around the cell again — perhaps I could find something to jimmy the lock? — when I realized that the noise outside the cell had gotten considerably louder while I was talking to the rug merchant. I moved back to look out the bars, when the palest Argonian I had ever seen ran up to them, did something at the gate, exclaimed, “You there, we are escaping! You must escape before the guards return,” and ran off. I immediately tried the gate, which now opened (what, he couldn’t open the gate himself, just to be sure?), and paused in the doorway to the cell to look back. “Noble ghost, I hope you find your way from here, to a place of better fabrics and restful beddings.” I genuflected, turned, and ran.

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