Actions

Work Header

In a Strange World

Chapter Text

"Ah, just the person I wanted to see!" Sheogorath said. She waved Irina over, who of which was frozen solid at the doorway. "Come sit, sit!" She exclaimed. "I haven't got all day, you know!" She paused for a moment and then giggled. "Well, actually, I do." 

This was undoubtedly the last thing she had expected to see when she got home. In a daze, Irina slowly moved towards the table where the mad goddess was seated and sat down. This action only served to make her more uncomfortable, as the god's smile seemed to grow wider.

" Soooo, " The woman continued, idly playing with the ends of her hair "What ya been up to? Heard, you finally  got around to killing your big brother after- what?" She looked up in mock thought. "Weeks? Months? Years? Pretty hard to keep track when you've been living for an eternity."

"What do you want?" Irina choked out. She was racking her mind trying to figure out if she had offended the Daedric Prince. How do you even offend the Daedric Prince of madness?

"Oh, don't be so uptight. "She fell back in her chair in exasperation. "You're even worse than Jyggalag, and his sphere is order mind you."  

"With all due respect," Irina said. Her throat felt tight as she talked. "You're not exactly giving me a reason not to be afraid."

Sheogorath waved her hands in the air. "Oh, reeeeaaallllly ?" She said, "I ask ya how life's been treating ya so far, and you get aaaallllll  tense." She pouted and twirled her hair around her finger. "Can't a homicidal maniac ask her champion how life's been?"

Irina rolled her eyes internally but didn't show her displeasure on her face. "We both know Daedric Princes don't exactly appear for friendly chats." Sheogorath smiled.

"You always were a smart one." She leaned back in her chair, white hair cascading behind her. "You remember that brother you killed, right? Big, scaly, mean? A typical older sibling?" 

Irina shifted in her seat. The mention of Alduin didn't bring up any pleasant memories "I do," Irina said. "What about it?" 

"Weeelllll," Sheogorath said, focusing intently on her hair. "What if I told you, he's not  really  dead?" 

Irina shrugged." Of course, he isn't, he's a dragon god after all. I didn't even get his soul when he fell. He just sort of-  poof - disappeared."

"That's what I said when your daddy told me that." The mad god replied. She had stopped twiddling her hair and sat up straight now. Her whole posture was rigid. Irina's mouth tilted downwards. That can't be good. 

"But he surprisingly didn't go back to his realm either, or Akatosh's for that matter." Irina shifted uncomfortably under the stare of the mad god. "He simply vanished. It caused quite an uproar among the Divines, especially Akatosh." She paused. "So, they did some digging ."

"And what does this have to do with me?" Irina said quietly. It was unnerving to see the Daedric Prince of madness so somber. 

"I'm getting to that." She snapped. "After all that digging, they found- How to put this? A new realm." Irina widened her eyes. 

"As in-"

"As in a new Nirn, so to speak." Sheogorath smiled. "Of course, you can only imagine the chaos that soon followed, and that was everybody . Even old Jyggalag had his knickers in a knot, demanding answers." Irina shuddered at the thought. "But there's a tinsy little- hmm, how to put this-problem we have."

Irina swallowed. "And that's?"

"We can't get there. And when I say we, I mean no god." She said, "Not Daedra, not Aedra nor a Divine. But -" Cold sweat began to form on Irina's forehead. She can't be suggesting - "We haven't tested it out on a mortal. And who better to test it out on than the Dragon person herself!" Sheogorath exclaimed.

"No." Her answer was immediate. "I am not  doing this."

Sheogorath began to pout again. " Well , too bad, you don't have a say in the matter." Irina wanted to cry. "You can thank your daddy for that one. He volunteered you."

She spoke through gritted teeth. "I don't care what he did, already did my part." She got up from the table and stomped to her bedroom. However, she neglected the fact that the woman she was talking to was literally a god and nearly screamed when she appeared in front of her. 

"Aw, Irina," She cooed. She draped an arm around her shoulder and snuggled her. "Don't be so angry . Think of it this way; A vacation! A new world full of new shiny things with-"

"People and animals and demons, who will probably want  to kill me." She flung her arm off. "I've saved this damned world three -no- four times, and you tell me that there is no one else on this entire plane of existence who can go into this new place?" 

She started pacing. "What about the Nerevarine? The man killed two gods and destroyed the Heart of Lorkhan. I've heard about his recent escapades all over the damn taverns, so he's alive and well. Why not him?" Irina didn't care it was a literal goddess she was talking to, she needed to get this off her chest. 

"What about The Champion of Cyrodiil?" Irina barely noticed the frown that came to Sheogorath's face. "The woman literally went into planes of Oblivion, she'd be perfect for this." She looked back at the madwoman. "Didn't she end up in your realm or something? Go get her to do this, I , on the other hand, want my damn break." She shoved the woman out of the way and stalked off to her bedroom.

A sigh from behind her and a mumble in Daedric, and suddenly Irina was unable to move. She struggled a bit until she heard the mad god talk. "It's useless. You won't be getting out of that one until I say so." Irina cursed the Daedra in her mind as Sheogorath stood in front of her. "It's funny that a mortal thinks they have a say in what the gods have decided. You almost remind me of-" She stopped and then smiled. 

"Never mind. Putting that aside, I've got to tell you what exactly you'll be doing in this mystery land." She summoned a note and then squinted at it. "Let's see here. You are too, by Auriel's decree, seek out you- oh, you what? Damn this." The note went up in flames. 

"Basically, we're sending you to the rats end of nowhere to retrieve your brother. And before you ask, we haven't exactly thought of how you'll get him back, all we know is that it's probably a good idea. What else? Oh, I almost forgot!" Irina watched as a long staff appeared out of thin air, two faces were on the top. One screaming in agony, and another laughing in hysterics. That isn't-"You'll be needing this, you're very own Wabbajack. Well, it's the only Wabbajack, but you catch my drift. It's how you'll communicate with home. And unless I forgot something else, that's all. You can speak now." Irina wanted to kill her when she laughed. "Oh yeah! I forgot that!" With a flick of her wrist and some more daedric, the spell was lifted.

Irina struggled to maintain her balance when the spell was finally removed. Glaring at the laughing maniac before her, she gathered her bearings. "Okay," She breathed. "Before I ask anything else, why me?"

Sheogorath shrugged. "As I said, bring that up with your father. Or is it step-father? Adoptive? Dragonborn business is confusing, even to me."

Deciding to ignore the woman's ramblings, she continued with her next question. "So how exactly am I supposed to talk to you with this thing?" She gestured towards the Wabbajack.

"Just cast it onto any unsuspecting creature, and I should appear." She crossed her arms, looking very distressed. "Funny story behind that actually, it took me a week to get it to work. A week! I was locked in a room by my bastard of a brother. No clue how he got in my realm in the first place, probably Haskill. And-"

Irina clapped." Moving on," She said. "So, any idea what I'll find there?"

Sheogorath waved a hand dismissively. "As you said, the usual things that want to kill you. I can name them if you want." Before Irina could say 'no,' the woman started "Let's see here, people, bears, chickens, bees, necromancers, children, trees, bear-people, wolves, dragons-"

Irina clapped her hands together again. "Alright, I get it!" Talking to mad god was going to be fun, to say the least. Why they chose her for this job was beyond Irina. "One last question. When do I leave?" 

"After you get your things together, dear." She said. "I'll be sitting at the table if you need anything else."

Irina nodded. She made her way to her bedroom and paused for a moment. She looked back at the mad god. "One last, last question." She said. Sheogorath motioned for her to continue. " How  will I be getting there?"

"Good ole' Daedric teleportation. It's the best way to travel!" She said. Her smile seemed to fade, and that same severe expression came back. Irina shivered. It wasn't a side of Sheogorath she was familiar with.

"Here's my final piece of advice; be ready." She said. "We truly don't know what's over there."

**********

The hours leading up to their departure was unnerving. Irina shoved everything into her satchel that she thought would be useful; Potions, books, amulets, rings, weapons, armor, anything she could think of. She neglected packing much food, however, coming to the decision that if the new world was anything like Tamriel, there'd be plenty of animals to hunt and as a pure-blooded Bosmer, hunting was second-nature to her.

She made sure she packed two things that had always been essential to her; Auriel's bow and sunhallowed arrows. Of course, these are to be used together, only in cases of emergency. It'd be best to avoid unwanted attention, after all.

Sleeping that night was unobtainable. She was kept up by her constant thoughts and questions. What was this place?  Where exactly was this place? She knew asking the Daedra in the foyer was useless; she was just as clueless. The only way to find out was regrettably to go there.

After dressing in her usual clothes, Irina took a deep breath and walked downstairs into the foyer. There, Sheogorath seemed to be attempting to balance as many cheese wheels as she could find on top of each other vertically. Irina watched this spectacle for a moment, curious about how she was managing this feat without the use of magic, and even more so at the fact that there were so many in her mansion.

"So-" The woman jumped three feet, and the leaning tower of cheese collapsed, leaving behind only anger and sorrow. 

Sheogorath glared at the Bosmer, who was frozen at the bottom of the stairway. She was fighting the urge to laugh hysterically. "Do you have any idea how long that took me? To gather all of this in the first place, and to make a tower with it?" She yelled. Irina bit her lip. "The whole damn night." Irina could take no more and burst out into laughter. That only served to make Sheogorath madder. "I ought to turn you into an ugly toad for this! In fact-" It wasn't until she heard the Daedra mumbling again that she realized the actual danger she was in.

She immediately went to remedy the situation. "You told me to get up at dawn. I was just trying to ask if you were ready to go!" Immediately the mumbling stopped.

"Oh yeah, I did, didn't I?" She looked to be in thought. "Well, I guess we better get going. It's already six." 

She walked up to the Bosmer and grabbed her hand. Before Irina could ask a single question, she felt weightless. A myriad of lights and colors appeared before her, flashing and intermingling. Then she fell down, hitting the ground hard. Above her, she could hear Sheogorath laughing.

"Ah, you ought to've seen the look on your face! All agony and confusion!" She did a mock expression and then fell out laughing. Irina was not impressed. 

"Where in Oblivion are we?" 

Sheogorath wiped a tear from her eye. "I can tell you we're not in Oblivion, but we're not really in Nirn either. We're in Aetherius."

Irina halted. "Are you serious?"

Sheogorath frowned. "I don't really fancy lying." She said. "Plus, you can feel it in the air. All the magicka that is."

It was true. Irina felt powerful, almost immortal. The only other place she had felt this way was Sovngarde, the place where Nords go in the afterlife. A realm of Aetherius created by Lorkahn himself.

"And they let a Daedra in here?"

"There's always Daedra here. It's just that all of them are locked in prison."

She lifted herself off the ground, first checking to make sure her satchel was still there, and second to make sure all of her was still there. Call it paranoia, but from the numerous old folk tales and the person who transported, she wasn't taking any chances.

After making sure everything was in order, she looked around. They were standing on a rock. To be more specific, the edge of a cliff seemed to give way to a waterfall. Irina looked down. There was no ground to speak of, at least visibly. Only a foggy mist that seemed to stretch on for eternity. All around her, she could hear the roar of dragons, the rush of water, and like in Sovngarde, the melody of a song except this one seemed to be fainter. The real breathtaking thing though, was the sky. In the dead center laid the sun, only it was much bigger than in Tamriel. The sky behind it seemed like a mural, painted with red, purple, blue, and green hues. Adorning the sky beside the sun, were tiny little stars, each one glowing intensely. 

Irina sucked in a breath. "Are we in-"

"On the borders of Akatosh's realm, yes." Sheogorath started walking, leaving behind a startled Bosmer. Irina ran to catch up with her. "The old coon won't let me teleport any further in." She grumbled.

"Isn't it like that in every realm?"

"Yes, but I reeeaaallllllyy hate walking. Takes too long. Too much thinking time", She said. "Lucky for us though, the weird green thing we found should be around here somewhere."

"Weird green thing?"

"You'll see."

The pair walked for what felt like hours until they came upon a large cave. At its mouth lay two dragons, both seeming to be on edge at the new arrivals. 

Sheogorath pushed Irina forward. "Before you go breathing fire at me, I brought your sister like your dad asked." Her brow furrowed. "Or is it half-sister? Two-thirds?"

The dragons ignored her and cleared out of the way. They regarded Irina with the customary greeting "Drem Yol Lok, Dovahkiin."

Irina smiled. "Drem Yol Lok." She said, before being pulled into the cave by the impatient mad god.

Inside the cave was- precisely what Sheogorath had called it, "a weird green cut." It seemed dormant until the pair walked up to it. The cut seemed to open, lashing out green lighting, which glossed over Irina but seemed intent of harming Sheogorath. The god quickly put up a barrier.

"Here is your portal, or 'miiraak' as the dragons call it." Irina stared in awe. She had been doing that a lot lately. 

"How do you know it's a portal?"

"We don't."

Irina whipped her head around. "You don't?"

"All, Akatosh said was that he could 'Feel Alduin's presence' from the other side of the portal." Sheogorath shook her head. "Now whether he's been hitting the skooma, or he's actually right, all depends on you."

"So what you're saying, is that you truly, and I mean truly , don't know what's in that? If there's anything in that." She pointed at the portal, of which was still spewing out green lighting. 

"Nope," Sheogorath admitted to Irina's horror. She went into this knowing the gods didn't know what was in this New Nirn. Now, she's learning that they're not sure it even exists. 

"Don't be so shocked. I'm sure you'll find something there. Maybe it's a world full of cheese? Maybe chickens? Perhaps-"

"I wanna go home." She was going to have to be damned before she went into that portal.

Sheogorath sighed. "Just understand I didn't want to do it this way." She mumbled.

Before she could even register what was happening, her feet were off the ground. She kicked and screamed to be let go as if a child, but the Daedra was uncaring. They stood in front of the portal now, the occasional bolt of lightning hitting Sheogorath. The Daedra didn't seem to mind. Irina felt as if she was looking at death itself.

"You have the Wabbajack, right?" Her question was only met with screams of terror, curses, and numerous prayers to Y'ffre. "I'll take that as a yes."

She hoisted the bosmer up, preparing to throw her. "Remember to watch out for dragons, wolves, wolf-people, chickens, children-"

"Just throw me in already!" And she did. 

Irina flew into the portal, leaving Sheogorath behind by herself. She exited the cave, bidding the two dragons at the entrance farewell before she did so. After she made it back to the Shivering Isles, she immediately summoned her Chamberlain, Haskill. 

"Yes, my lord?" He asked in his usual uninterested tone.

"The cheese Haskill, where's the cheese?" She held her head as if it was aching.

"I'm sorry, Lord Sheogorath, I'll-"

"Oh, never mind that." She said. She walked over to her desk, dove into a compartment, and emerged with a stack of letters. "Make sure these get delivered."

"I will, at once, my Lord." He said, and disappeared. It was quiet in the castle now. It gave room for Sheogorath, and now she had to. She took out a piece of paper and scribbled on it to aid her thought process. Those two Dragons must've already reported back to Akatosh. It won't be long now before he tells her what's next. She stopped scribbling and looked at her paper. She burned it in her hands, staring at the ashes for a moment, before taking out another and starting writing something coherent, albeit in Daedric.

Plans, she needed to make plans. It came naturally to her, a perk of being not only the mad god but arguably the god of creativity as well. The only thing that seemed to ruin her plans was her own inability to follow them, that was Jyggalag’s territory.

And this time, the fact that she had no clue what she was making plans for.




Chapter Text

Though she had expected it, getting thrown through a random portal was not how Irina envisioned her journey starting. Color zoomed by, as her hands widely tried to grasp at them, looking for some stability. The world seemed to have disappeared and was replaced with a giant empty hole full of darkness, random colors, and strange noises. Finally, her feet touched some semblance of ground, and Irina hit it hard, almost spraining her ankle.

The next thing to hit Irina was the scent. The morning air was heavy with smoke and blood, two smells she was all too familiar with. She took her time getting up, holding out her arms on the sides of her for balance. The world seemed to spin for a moment before she fully regained consciousness, and when she did, what she saw was ruins. The blue bright and sunny blue sky seemed to mock the scorched earth below it, littered with burned down houses and dead bodies, in all forms of expression. Some terror, some acceptance, and most shock. It seems she has walked in on a massacre of sorts.

Covering her nose with her sleeve, she walked through the debris, only allowing herself sparing glances at the corpse below her. She needed to find a suitable spot to use the Wabbajack to summon Sheogorath and test the god's theory. A cold sweat fell down her face. If it didn't work, she'd be stuck here.

As she walked, the sounds of what seemed like fighting got clearer. War cries, metal against metal, screams of agony, all the typical things associated with wars. Her mind raced. It seems like this wasn't a massacre but a battle. She stopped beside a dead body, a woman's. She wasn't dressed in armor, but simple farm clothes. Her right hand was closed tightly around a kitchen knife. Irna winced. It seems like this village and its people were casualties.

She lifted herself up, slapped her face a couple of times, and returned her sleeve to her nose. She needed to keep her mind focused. Think of home, think of slaying Alduin, her task, what she is. Anything to keep her mind off of what's going on around her. And for a moment, it worked. 

But not all good things last, and she had only walked a couple of steps before she heard a scream. She automatically whipped her head around to see what looked like a standoff between a couple and a man dressed heavily in armor. His right hand bore a sword, and in his left, he yanked a man while the man's wife attempted to be desperately trying to pull back. Irina stopped dead in her tracks.

"Tell me where your friends are mage!" The demand was met with more desperate pleas from both the man and the woman. 

"We already told you," The woman cried. "We're not mages! We're heading to Redcliffe because that's the only place that's safe! Please listen." 

'Mages? Perhaps they were talking about Hagravens or necromancers. But why them?' Irina thought. You can't judge a book by its cover, of course, but with the number of bodies lying around here, a necromancer or witch would've had no problem killing this man. 

The man only sneered, and with a final yank, he pulled the man into his grasp. A sword pressed across the farm man's throat. He lifted his head in a desperate attempt to build some space between the blade and his neck, but it was no use. The armored man had him where he wanted him.

The woman was on the ground, now sobbing and crying desperately for the man to leave them alone. Irina took a deep breath and closed her eyes. 'Ignore it.' She told herself. 'A job, you have a job to do. Nothing more, nothing less. You can pray to Arkay for them, but that's  all . It's not your problem.' Opening her eyes and shutting her ears, she crept forward. The shouting match between the armored man and the woman became louder. 'Leave it be, Irina, just please leave them be. You want to go home, no time to play the hero. Just leave them be." And it almost worked. 

But her heart was traitorous to her mind. She gave one last fleeting glance to the woman, just as she was behind the armored man, and then their eyes made contact. She cursed the Divine even though they couldn't hear. Now she was obliged to help the couple. 

Taking out her bow, she nodded to the woman, hoping she would catch on. Lucky for her, she did and immediately closed her eyes to start sobbing and begging. Irina lined up the shot, aiming for the head.

"Sweet Y'ffre. Damn it all." She said as she released the arrow. It hit its mark right on the target, and the armored man fell in a second, almost taking his hostage down with him. The woman immediately ran up to her husband, and the two shared a tender embrace. And before Irina could sneak off, she ran up to her too to thank her.

"Oh, Maker. Thank you. Just thank you!" Soon Irina found herself in a tight embrace that even she struggled to get out of. After a minute, the woman soon backed off and was replaced by her husband. 

"By Andraste tit's, I thought we'd die there." The man said. He winced when his wife smacked him upside the head. For what, Irina didn't know.

"You're heading to Redcliffe too, huh?" She gave a sad laugh. "More prepared than the rest of us a lot, by the looks of it."

"Yeah," Irina said. She was lying through her teeth. Her mind pleaded with the woman not to ask her anything more about the village. "Had relatives around these parts. I went home and found them dead in their beds." 

 "Sorry for your loss. I know the wars can be especially hard on elves."

Irina waved a hand in front of her. "No need to get all sentimental. I didn't know them for long; they were more distant relatives." She said. "I just came from the south to visit them months after my mum passed away. It was her side of the family."

"So why are you headed to Redcliffe." The man asked. It earned him another smack upside the head. "I'm just asking a question?"

"It's a stupid question." The woman said. "What else? To escape the war like the rest of us. Damn templars and mages have made everywhere but Redcliffe uninhabitable." Her face was red with anger and some embarrassment "I'm sorry he doesn't think straight sometimes."

"It's alright. I think the war has made all of us disoriented." Irina replied. "Though I've got to say, I didn't think the mages and templars were at war?"

The woman gave another huff. "You must've just arrived. All you've got to do is look around. Whole Hinterlands is their playground now." She sighed. "Idiots don't think about anyone, but themselves. I've lost good friends and family to this. They should've kept their petty fight behind closed doors."

"It was always out in the open, though." The man said. Irina stayed silent. "It just blew up in Kirkwall," He frowned. "and now everyone has to suffer."

The woman's shoulders slumped, her previous temper gone. "I know. I just-" She seemed to remember something. "I'm sorry, where are my manners." She said, talking to Irina now. "Almost lost myself in my rambling."

"It's alright." Irina could sympathize with the woman. They were standing in the rubble of the couple's village after all. "We should probably get out of here before more come by."

"That's a good idea." The woman said. "Since it's your first time here, we'll lead you to Redcliffe, consider it repayment."

*************

Redcliffe village was a small and quaint little town, and from an outsider's perspective, generally looked unaffected by the war. However, the influx of people, the nervousness and bustling, and the plentiful town guards proved otherwise. There were what appeared to be priests praying over people, with some singing hymns. Some folks were asking around desperately if they'd seen their missing family member, others were crying. Either at the joy of reunion or the pain of loss. Irina had never seen so many people gathered around in such chaos and disorder. Even in the face of civil war and the possible end of the world, Skyrim's citizens always carried on with their lives as the danger they were facing was nothing new. She guessed that they had to be that way because Skyrim always seemed out to kill them every day anyway.

The stench of the crowd, and the constant pushing and shoving, made Irina nauseous and faint. She could deal with most smells, but that was out in the open, and when you put a short Bosmer in a crowd of tall, sweaty humans, that Bosmer has a very limited airway. She wanted to leave, but the couple she had saved insisted on showing her to her grandma to say thanks, and Irina always had a problem saying no.

So here she was standing in front of an old woman, in between two humans. At least the people seemed nice.

"Mama, this is the elf I was telling you about." She gestured to Irina, who was trying her best not to pick at her sleeve. "Saved me and my husband over here from the Templars."

"Truly, it was nothing." She said. "I was just passing through to get here and saw some people in need."

The old woman clasped her hands around Irina's. Her smile was serene. "Not much? You saved my daughter and step-son. There has to be some way to repay you."

"Well," Irina thought for a moment. She had everything she needed right here in her bag, but there was something the old woman could give her. "I have been going around collecting books as of late. Hobby, I picked up from my mum. If you have any to spare…" 

"Just a moment." She said and walked into one of the many circular houses. A minute or two passed, and she emerged with three well-sized books. "Would this be enough?"

"More than enough, thank you, miss." She gingerly held them in her hand. This world seemed to operate very differently from Tamriel. She hoped that books the old woman had given her would shed some light on why these Templars and mages were fighting, and more importantly, what a Templar is.

"And if you need anything else, just come by our house. We've got plenty to spare." Irina smiled and said her goodbyes to the couple and the old lady, wishing them farewell.

Irina wandered the small village for a while, allowing herself to think. She was aware enough to try and stay clear of the square, but absent-minded enough to think about her next move. The first task at hand was to find a place, preferably in somewhat seclusion, so she could summon Sheogorath. She stopped near the harbor and sat down. Everything here was different, yet the same. The people looked the same, the land seemed the same. But where were the Khajiit caravans? The various species of mer? The Argonians? They were all missing.

She was truly not in Tamriel anymore.

 'Focus.' She told herself. 'You need to focus.' But she couldn't. She'd seen bodies laid before her, been thrown through portals, almost executed, betrayed, and while shaken up, it didn't rattle her too much. Yet she couldn't. There was too much different, too much that was wrong.

 She pushed that aside and focused on finding a good tree or place, in general, to settle down. The village was a lot calmer than before. The weary souls of Redcliffe all dozing off to sleep with the evening or admiring the sunset to take their minds off of what was happening, if only for a moment. 

She found a suitable spot near one of the roundhouses, which turned out to be an area for the wounded and sick. The healers and guards didn't seem to mind her presence, and Irina decided not to bother them.

Taking out a dagger, she marked her spot and tied a handkerchief around the area for her future self. With her base area all set, there was one last thing she needed to do, she thought. 

She needed to see if Sheogorath's plan would actually work.

 

Chapter Text

Usually, the dining room in the palace of New Sheoth would be populated with the residents of Shivering Isles, such as the Duke of Mania, the Duchess of Dementia, or various servants belonging to either of the aforementioned houses. Still, for this special occasion, Sheogorath had explicitly requested that the inhabitants stay in their area of the castle. After all, today, she was having guests.

She was busy bossing around Haskill and some Seducers and Saints; a thunderous knock came from the door. Sheogorath clapped her hands together in excitement and immediately told Haskill to 'go make himself useful and open the damn thing,' while she instructed her guards to stand up perfectly still on both sides of the door. She quickly sat at the head of the dining table, tapping lightly on a fork, humming some tune she'd learned three-hundred years ago when incomes-

"Jyggalag! My dear brother, who wants me dead!" Sheogorath said. She got up from her seat to give her predecessor a hug that wasn't returned but grudgingly accepted. She had to stand on her tippy toes to pat his shoulder. "I thought you'd throw my letter into the seas of Oblivion when you got my letter. How's the new realm of Oblivion? Is it all depression and orderly like you? Wouldn't make sense if it wasn't." 

Of course, she'd sensed when he came into her realm, but still, it was quite surprising seeing him come first of all Daedra. They hadn't really interacted much since the whole split fiasco, and she'd only seen him a couple of weeks ago because Akatosh told him to tell her about the whole, 'weird green cut' and of course modifying her beloved staff. 

Jyggalag juxtaposed the colorful and bizarre nature of the Shivering Isles, being all black and white and edges and orderly, and all that. He stood as straight as a spear, as he looked down upon her. She could see the contempt in his gaze.

He took her hand off his shoulder and made towards his seat. "Where are the rest?" He asked while sitting down. 

Sheogorath sighed. "Never any fun, are you? No small talk about anything. Always 'do this,' 'do that,' 'you're a blubbering fool.'" She took her seat at the head of the table, head resting on her hand. "And you wonder why the other Daedra took you out so long ago." That seemed to hit a nerve as Jyggalag tensed. Sheogorath smiled a wide-toothed smile. "I mean no offense, of course."

"The only reason I arrived at such an early time is because of Auriel." He said. Sheogorath straightened up in her chair at the name. Had he gotten her letter? "He means to give you this." Jyggalag summoned a note and slid it across the table, Sheogorath eagerly receiving it.

The more she read the contents of the note, the more her face changed. First, it was hope, next confusion, and finally fury. Shooting up from her seat, she started to complain, "So he wants me to play nanny for his kid?" Thunder boomed outside, causing the residents of the Shivering Isles to shiver. No one liked an angry, mad god. "I've done things for him time and time again, becoming practically his errand dog. Now I give up one of my most valued artifacts, and it  still  isn't enough for him." Another boom of thunder from outside, this one louder than the previous. "He wants me- no, no, no, he  demands  me to devote my time to this. A scheme that's crazier than anything I could come up with, all over some stupid new world. I ought to-"

"You will do what  Sheogorath ?" He spat the name out. That seemed to reel the mad god back into reality. The thunderstorm outside abruptly stopped, replaced by a gentle rain. Sheogorath seemed to deflate on the spot and dragged herself back into her chair at the table's head. 

She held her head in her hands, mumbling incoherent things. "So stupid. She was so stupid, too stupid. Why did she believe him? Damned gates. Stupid fucking-"

"Will you quit your blubbering, fool?" Jyggalag asked, spite in his voice. The mumbling stopped, as did the rain. Sheogorath quickly pulled her head back up, taking a deep, trembling breath. Her brief bout of self-loathing was quickly replaced by a smile. 

"I'm sorry Jyggalag, I hosted a tea party with no tea! Haskill!" She shouted, and immediately the Breton chamberlain appeared. 

"Yes, my lord?" He said in his usual dreary tone.

"What's taking the chefs so long? All you've gotta do is put a leaf in some water and bam tea! Should I go back there and do it myself?" She moved to get up from her seat until the chamberlain gestured for her to sit down.

"No, my lord. I will go check up on it now." Haskill said, and just as quickly as he arrived, he trotted off down the palace hallways. 

Sheogorath huffed. "So hard to find good help these days, isn't it?" Jyggalag ignored the question, and asked one of his own, or rather Akatosh's.

"Will you accept, Sheogorath?" He made sure to say her name.

"Not like I have much choice in the matter, my dearest brother." She replied. "Go tell Akatosh I'll happily babysit his kid. Now," She took a sweet roll off of a nearby plate. "Have you tried my new chef's cooking, it's almost as good as the last! Let's hope this one doesn't try to grow a beard!"

***********

It took approximately seven hours for all fifteen other Daedric Princes to show up, mainly arriving in their own groups. Azura, Boethiah, Mephala, Meridia, and Nocturnal came soon after Jyggalag. Sanguine, Vaemira and Malacath showed up not long after them, with Sanguine bringing his own drink as a gift, which Sheogorath respectfully declined to the other Prince's sorrow. Clavicus arrived with his damned dog Barbas, who seemed to stick to his master's heels under the eye of the mad god. Hircine showed up with Bal, and finally, Dagon, Peryite, Mora, and Namira all showed up singly at their own times.

It was lively in the dining hall. For once, Nirn wasn't the main topic, but instead, this new land. Mora especially pried information out of every living thing he could, with various questions that either made absolutely no sense or couldn't be answered yet. Boethiah, Bal, and Meridia decided to avoid each other during this tea party, or else the whole thing would go into the waters of Oblivion. Hircine attempted to debate with Clavicus but was stopped by Barbas, who insisted his master wasn't 'feeling well right now. Talk to him again next century." The house of good in the Dunmeri pantheon were having a civil discussion in the corner, with the inclusion of Meridia and Nocturnal. Dagon made sure to steer clear of Sheogorath, as did Malacath, so the two were discussing their own things. And Jyggalag was stone-faced as Sanguine was pestering into trying his drink. 

A tap on a teacup signaled for the Princes to quiet down. Sheogorath stood at the head of the table with a warm smile on her face. 

"My dear friends!" Then under her breath, "Except some others, Welcome to my seventh-hundred-and-twentieth annual tea party! Though for some of you it might be the first, or the second, or the third, or the fourth, or the-"

“Sheogorath.” Jyggalag said.

"Oh quiet you, I'm trying to do introductions. Anyway, no matter how many times you've been here, you know we're here to discuss the issues of the mortal realm, but today" She paused. "It seems that there's someplace  other  than Nirn to talk about."

"Does it have a name yet?" Mora was the first to pipe up.

"Other than 'green cut,' and whatever Akatosh named it, we don't know." She replied. "Or whatever's on the other side of the portal could've already named it."

Mora's tentacles swayed a bit faster. "You're suggesting that there could be other life forms beyond that portal?" He spoke quicker this time around, in his excitement.

"It is unlikely, but a possibility," Jyggalag said. "We are investigating right now."

"You are doing more things for the Divines without telling us," Azura said. There was a slight sneer on her delicate features. "It does not quite suit the Daedric Prince of order."

"In Jyggy's defense, it was me who went behind your backs." Sheogorath said. Azura's gaze turned towards her.

"And what are the Divines hiding from us now?"

"I'm getting to that! Sheesh, you're all so impatient." She mumbled. "You know his kid, right? Bosmer, short hair, big eyes, is everyone's champion in some way, shape, or form?" There were mutters in reply. "Well, her dad, your favorite Akatosh, decided to use her as a test subject. She should be contacting us in- whenever in Oblivion, she does."

There was a brief silence. Azura was again the one to speak. "And you're only telling us this now?" It was more of a statement than a question. Sheogorath could practically see the steam coming out of the Mother of Roses.

"Well, yes, when was I supposed to tell you? In a week, a month, next era? Honestly, Azura, what more do you want?"

"Don't act so stupid, you blubbering fool!" Boethiah bellowed. 

"Isn't that the point of being a fool? And I'd like to say I'm not one. I'm not a fool to the point where I generously donated my staff."

"Exactly what a fool would do," Azura commented.

"Sheogortah was simply following the orders of Auriel," Jyggalag said.

"The god of crazy follows orders now? That's a new one." Sanguine said. "I feel betrayed Sheo. I thought you would tell me first."

"And here I am telling all of you at once, now shut up and let me continue." She huffed. The chattering slowly quieted down.

"Jyggalag is right. I was simply under the orders of everyone's favorite dragon god, Akatosh. And I know, I'm the last person you expect, but when a green cut is in Aetherius, it's no longer the time for jokes." The lie was blatant, but no one touched on it. At least not yet. "As I said before, we sent the dragon-elf through the portal, and we're waiting for her to respond. She'll probably be talking to me. That's it. Now argue and ask away." Mora started to speak but was cut off. "We don't know anything yet, Mora." The mass of tentacles quieted.

Azura spoke first. "Why did you not tell us sooner, Sheogorath?" People really loved spitting out her name today, more so than usual.

"As Jyggy said before, everything comes from Akatosh. The portal is even in his realm. If the time-dragon god didn't want it said, I wasn't going to say it."

"You all act as if this is something new," Dagon said. Everyone tensed. Ever since the events of the Oblivion Crisis, the Dagon and Sheogorath mixed as well as oil and water.

" Reeeaaallly? " Sheogorath said a smile etched on her face. "Enlighten me Dagon, what are you talking about?"

The Prince laughed. "For someone who claims not to be a fool, you play one perfectly." Her smile twitched a bit. "You act as if you weren't being pulled around by Akatosh's plan once. You still are, it seems."

"Oh, Dagon, I was willing to and now."

"I don't remember you having that mindset when Martin- how do you say it? 'Turned into a dragon god.' The smile fell from Sheogorath's face and gave way to an emotionless expression. Thunder once again rolled outside, more intense than before.

"Dagon!" Shegorath said. She moved from her seat to be closer to her 'friend.' "My dear, stupid, Dagon. You do remember where you are, right?"

Sanguine hurried in between them. As much fun as a fight between the Prince of madness and Destruction would be, they were here for a civil discussion. "Now, now, how about we all calm down-"

"I'm fully aware of where I am." He was standing now, walking forward to meet the mad god. The Saints and Seducers had their weapons drawn. 

"Then you must be more of a fool than I am."  

"Sheogorath!" Sanguine shouted to no avail.

"What did he promise you, I wonder," Dagon said. "You were pestering Sanguine for a decade. Over what?"

"When did that  ever  become your concern Dagon?" 

"Ever since you became Auriel's dog."

They were face to face now and only inches apart. The Saints and Seducers seemed to form a formation around their lord, with one of each on either side of Sheogorath. No one moved for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, with an awkward cough, Sanguine caught their attention. "Why don't we put the grudges aside and drink for a moment? Let the anger go and lose ourselves." He held up the bottle he had bought.

No one responded until Sheogorath spoke, never letting her eyes off Dagon. "Yes, that'd be nice. Wouldn't it, Dagon?"

"It would Sheogorath." He walked away to go back to his seat, leaving the mad god to stand alone in thought. Sanguine walked over, patted her shoulder, and steered her back to her chair. Popping open a bottle, they began to pass the bottle around and take swigs, though some preferred to simply pour it into their teacups, once of which was Sheogorath.

She stared at the dark liquid in the cup. Her reflection stared back at her, or whatever this  thing  was in the cup did so. White hair, blind eyes, sharp teeth, mismatched colors, and a crazy look in its eyes. Just where had she gone to? 

She shook her head and took a sip of the cup, savoring the warm feeling that bloomed her stomach. Closing her eyes, only one thought came to mind.

It shouldn't be long now.

 

 

Chapter Text

The fresh night air carried the muffled whimpers of the rabbit. Irina didn't look at the poor animal that seemed to be pleading with her, only saying a quiet apology and a prayer to Arkay for the thing. In her right hand, she gripped the Wabbajack Sheogorath had given her, reminiscing about how she ended up in this situation. She sighed and aimed at the staff. It wasn't wise to keep the mad god waiting.

She said another apology to the rabbit, closed her eyes and focused her mana in the staff. There was an odd strain with the flow of mana, but that was an issue for later. She pushed more mana into the Wabbajack to make up for the strain. A small purple light shot out of the head of the staff and flew towards the rabbit. A large purple cloud of smoke shrouded the surrounding area, causing Irina to hunch over coughing and wheezing. Suddenly a shrill scream and string of curses came from the center of the cloud. Sheogorath was here.

"Don't you understand privacy?" She yelled. Her white hair was a mess, strewn in all sorts of different directions, with some sticking to her face. The usual clean and pristine suit she wore was in disarray. She looked like an angry hagraven without all the feathers and with more crazy. 

Irina was unfazed. "You're the one who told me to summon you."
Sheogorath growled. "It's the middle of the bloody night! Some people have to sleep." 

"Daedra, actually sleep?"

The mad god was more occupied with buttoning up her suite than talking. "We all have preferences. Unlike my other associate, I like sleeping. Well, that is if you exclude Barbus." She straightened her tie and brushed off her clothes. "Now, what can this demented mad god to for you?"

"Just wanted to say that I made it to... This place." She said, gesturing to her surrounding area.

Sheogorath yawned. "Yes, I can see that. Trees and grass and two moons. Good thing you didn't end up in a pit of lava. Any word on Alduin yet?"

"Nothing." Irina answered.

"Really. The big scary, black dragon hasn't been seen yet? And here I was thinking he'd make quite the entrance."

Irina gave the woman a lop-sided smile. "He always was one to disappear. For all, I know he could be in hiding somewhere."

"But where would he hide?" Sheogorath said. She sat down on a nearby log. "No one of Tamriel or Akavir has ever been here."

"Well, what else would he do?" Irina asked. Sheogorath opened her mouth and then closed it. A silence hung between the two. Neither of them had no clue where to start looking or who to start questioning. It wasn't like going to a new country in Tamriel; at least you had some idea of what you were dealing with. They were both in the dark here.

Sheogorath sighed. "I need to talk to Akatosh. He should at least have some clue on what to do", She said. "You know you dragon people always make things so complicated. Why can't you ever play nice?"

"Same reason you daedra can't stop toying with people. It's a natural habit." She responded. The mad god scrunched her nose in response. She closed her eyes and thought for a moment, and then suddenly pounded her fist against her open palm.

"Well, I'll be a horker's uncle, that's it!"

Irina furrowed her brows. "What's 'it'?"

A huge wide-toothed grin was on Sheogorath's face. Irina shuddered. She was still getting used to Sheogorath's sudden mood swings. "You dragon people can talk to each other, right?" Irina nodded. "Well, why not find a dragon here and talk to it."
You could hear a cricket chirping in the time it took for Irina to respond. "You want me to- what?" Her voice trembled.

Sheogorath threw her hands up into the air. "Are you deaf? I said, talk to a dragon." When the Bosmer stared at her in disbelief, she continued. "You talk to that big red one all the time, don't you?" Another nod from Irina. "Well, other dragons should be no different."

"Aren't you the one who said this place is like a 'new Nirn,' how are we supposed to assume that dragons here are like the ones in Tamriel?" Then she noticed another glaring hole in Shoegorath's theory. "Much less if there're any dragons here?"

"There's an easy answer to that one; start asking around," Sheogorath said. "If people don't know what you mean by 'dragon,' just say 'big overgrown lizard that breathes fire.'  I'm sure they'll point you the right way after that."

Irina tapped her foot on the earth "Your idea is- unique,"

"I'm charmed."

"So unique it might actually just work, but," Irina said. "What if they don't, you know, respond. As in don't talk, what am I suppose to do then?"

"You're the Dovahkiin, dear. The big bad-elf, which kills dragons and eats their souls for lunch. Just do that."

*********
The minutes after the mad god's departure were nerve-wracking for Irina. She dove into her bag, messing around with the contents until she pulled out a worn leather notebook and black chalk. All the pages were written neatly in either Aldmeri or Bosmeri, and dated back about twenty years. This one had been the third in her collection. She hastily flipped through it until she came upon a blank page and started writing.

The page was split into two columns, pros, and cons. At the top of the page was her objective written in big letters; "FIND ALDUIN." She tapped her chalk on the paper as she stared at it. On one hand, Sheogorath's idea was incredibly stupid and might lead to her death, on the other, the woman's plan was genius. If the dragons here actually spoke the language of the Dovah back home, that would provide Irina with three bits of information. The knowledge that she could possibly talk her way out of dragon attacks, or shout rather, the fact that at the least dragons can cross over here and that they've been here for some time, and finally, and the most important, the possible location of Alduin.

Irina closed her eyes. She could see her whole family in her mind, all of them waiting. All of them betrayed by her selfish desires. The mother she loved, the father she admired, and her stupid yet caring siblings. They were all there in her memory, waiting and watching for her safe return. The tapping sped up. Return home. She needed to return to Valenwood and make amends with her family. There was no doubt they heard of her recent escapades and were worried sick. She needed to get back as soon as possible.

The Daedra's plan might actually be worth the risk.

************

The night time was silent, aside from the occasional chatter from the townsfolk taking a night stroll, the quiet snoring of the wood elf who had fallen asleep not too long ago, and a few folks outside the tavern who seemed intent on singing every damn song they knew.  Two of which drunks weren't singing like their comrades, but having a discussion. A discussion about 'The Herald of Andraste.' 

"I tell ya, Bert!" The bigger of the two men exclaimed. "They say she fell out of the bloody sky with our lady right behind her." He took a swig of his drink. "She got to be a messenger from the Maker himself."

"Oh, would ya shut up with all that horseshit. Ain't no damn way a tiny little elf was sent from the Maker."

"But I tell ya she is! Closed up that hole in the sky not too long ago. Holy, she is!" That comment earned him a sluggish slap.

The bigger man laughed. "Yea, she sure is. The lass might even be the Andraste herself? Who knows?"

The shorter man puffed up his cheeks. "Are ya deaf ya punk? Everyones been talkin' about this shite. 'Ell even the guards outside the gate witnessed her close up one of 'em cuts not too long ago. Poor woman was speechless!"

"Yea, yea, and I'm the Maker himself." The bigger man waved, the smaller one off. "Now, go and get me a pint from the barmaid." Then he showed a lecherous grin. "Maybe we can pay her for other 'services' as well."

*********

The song of a bird right next to her ear woke Irina up with a start. She shooed the creature away and jumped out of her tree. Redcliffe was lively as usual, but a bit more calm compared to yesterday. The townsfolk were mainly chatting about various ongoings in their country, while merchants shouted out their various wares. 

Irina walked down the stone streets while munching on an apple she had packed in her bag. A dragon. She needed to find one of her reptilian siblings, but she didn't know where to start. She sat down on a bench near a book to stand and tapped her foot lightly. Where do you go for information here?

The sound of yelling and shouting snapped her out of her thoughts. Irina got up from her bench and walked over to see what was the matter. Two men who appeared to be either drunk or high off their bloody minds were duking it out right outside. Everyone ignored the two, with some concerned parents shooing their nosy children away, and some people coming outside to watch in disgust or cheer them on and place bets.

Irina only spared them a glance and then looked at the sign outside the place where the pair had emerged. Drunks in a small town can only come from one place, the tavern. Sure enough, the sign outside read "The Gull and Lantern." A grin came to Irina's face. In taverns, barkeepers usually tell about all sorts of rumors or passing gossip, that is if you buy a drink. One of those rumors just had to be about a dragon of some sort.

She pushed the door open and walked inside. The familiar aroma of alcohol and food seemed to welcome her when she walked in. Somewhat near the center was a bard singing epics and tales of great heroes and wars. There weren't many people in the tavern, considering the time of day. Only a few regulars, some people drinking their minds out to forget about their woes, and a few official-looking fellows in robes. Irina spared a glance. One of them was staring directly at her, a dead soulless look was in his eyes. The hair on the back of her neck rose as she passed him. He looked like some necromancers thrall.

 Her boots tapped on the stone floor as she made her way to the counter. An old, stocky and short woman was wiping down a mug at the bar. Irina gathered her bearings and sat down in front of her, a smile on her face.

The woman only glanced at her and continued wiping down the cup intently. "Don't do gossip. If ya looking for that, ole' Lisa over there would be happy to talk to you." She gestured over to the bard in the middle of the room.

"I'm not looking for that." She said. Though it would've been helpful. "But I have been wondering about something."

"And that is?"

"Is there a dragon around her?" She asked. The woman only stared at her, her face looked mainly done with this whole conversation. Irina coughed. "You know, big, fire-breathing, liza-"

"I ain't no idiot. I know what you talkin' bout." The woman studied her intently. Irina met her gaze and stared back. She grew up her whole life surrounded by Thalmor, this was practically nothing. "What's a small elf like yourself lookin' for a dragon for?"

"None of your business," Irina stated. The woman cocked her head, her eyes narrow.

"Watch it, girl. This is my bar, and you're being mighty rude."

Irina huffed. "Like you ever get polite patrons." She gestured to a group of drunks in the corner leering at a poor barmaid.

The woman grinned. "That's true. Looky 'ere girl, I don't know why you're lookin' for a dragon, but if you're dumb enough to get yourself killed, that's your business, not mine. You got a map." When Irina didn't make a movie, the woman sighed. "You're outta luck then."

"Can't you just tell me where to go?"

The woman glanced at her. "I've seen plenty of people in my days here. I can tell when someones not from around these parts, and I can tell that you're one of 'em. Almost assumed your dalish at first, 'cause of how you act, but you lack the tattoos."

Irina sighed. "Where would I get a map?"

"Why I've got one right' ere." She reached under the counter and pulled out a piece of paper, with details of various ruins and places. Irina reached out for it, but the map was pulled out of her reach. The woman looked at her with a big grin. "This ain't fa free girl."

Irina grumbled while diving in her pack. She pulled out ten shiny septims and slid them across the wooden counter. "Would this do?"

The woman's eyes widened as she hastily pulled the shiny coins from off the table. She bit one and then stared at the reflective surface in pure awe. "Is this gold?"

"Yeah," Irina said. Then she quickly added on. "Found them in a ruin somewhere in the north. I thought I'd take them with me back home."

"Why aren't you just a desperate elf!" She said in excitement. Hastily, she pulled out a piece of chalk from her apron and marked a spot on the map before handing it back to Irina. "Good luck, dragon huntin'! May Andraste guide you!"

"Thank you." Irina said as she walked through the door. She looked at the map the lady had handed her. The location marked was a few miles east of Redcliffe. Her heart thumped against her ribcage in anticipation.

****************

While Irina had most certainly been excited at the idea of meeting another dragon, trudging her way through ruins, trees, hills, and all the other likes without a damn horse might've not been the best idea. The grass fields seemed to stretch on for eternity with only the occasional ruin, or human Irina had to hide from. She was starting to regret taking Sheogorath's advice, but she still trudged on, desperately trying to keep her mind on thoughts of home. 

Eventually, she made it to the mouth of the dragon's nest, as indicated by a nearby statue Irina recognized from the map. She was buzzing with excitement now as she entered the narrow cavern. The dragon should just be-

"Well, ain't this a surprise." She looked up from her map to see a tall and burly Nordic-looking man wielding a Warhammer. The two of them complimented each other nicely as they were both bloody giants, especially compared to Irina. "What's a fine elven lass like yourself doing out here all alone?"

Irina rolled her eyes. There were plenty of bandits like this in Skyrim, although she had to admit not as large. "Well, that's my business, isn't it? Also, can you and your friends get out of the way I'm trying to enter that cave."

The man moved closer, his big shadow looming over Irina's small frame. "Aw, don't be so angry. We just wanna have some fun with ya." He moved his hand to cup her face, all the while his friends behind were cheering him on.

One with a big nose laughed loudly. "Small tits, but a nice arse it seems." His shorter companion whistled in agreement.

"A fierce one too." He turned to his friend with a lop-sided grin. "I betcha she's a-" A howl of pain cut through their conversation. All the bandits in the camp immediately drew their weapons.

There standing over the Warhammer wielding man was Irina. She held his hand in an awkward angle, intent on breaking it. The sickening snap of his bone a second later indicated she did. The man screamed some more, tears coming to his eyes.

"You knife-eared bitch!" The big nose man shouted.

"You're the ones who started it." She dropped the big man's hand to the ground and looked at him with disgust. "Honestly, didn't your mothers teach you to keep your hands to yourself?"

The big-nosed man face turned the reddish shade of red any human could possibly muster. Then with a curse, he ran over to her, blade drawn. Irina looked at him and took a deep breath. She was planning on shouting only to the dragon, but she guessed she could use a warm-up.

She opened her mouth, only to feel a whip of air brush against her cheek, and the big-nosed man to fall to the ground with an arrow in his throat. Irina immediately drew her bow and turned around. Behind her was a group of people; two elves, a grumpy looking nordic woman, and an extremely short Breton who, judging from his crossbow, was the one who fired the shot.

The mystery group and the group of bandits began attacking each other. The male elf utilized a staff that fired spells of all sorts, including flames, ice, and electricity. The nordic woman charged forward into the group, bashing a pair of bandits down, and swinging her sword wildly, and yet with some grace. The elf preferred daggers and sneaking up on her victims, taking advantage of the chaos and slashing the throat of a confused bandit. Irina watched this spectacle in awe. She had absolutely no clue who these people were, but they weren't attacking her. 

 The bandits were being picked away one by one by the new group, and after a few minutes of fighting, the bandits were dead on the ground, leaving only Irina and the mystery group alive. The elven woman flicked her daggers, sheathed them, and then made a beeline over to Irina. She tensed, summoning some mana to her palm. If she only 'saved' her to kill her then why-

"Are you okay?" To see a stranger looking distressed over Irina's well being isn't something she expected. Her mind was racing, but she covered it up with a small smile.

"I'm fine, thank you. Bandits are a real menace, eh?" Irina let out a small laugh. The young woman looked a bit more relieved but still worried.

"You should head to Redcliffe. We'll escort you back if you ne-" Her words were cut off by a grunt of surprise. Her companions stared in horror as a blade pierced her side. It seems one of the bandits wasn't dead.

Without enough time to grab her bow, Irina made a split-second decision. She took the mana that she had stored in her palm only a minute before and shot it out at the bandit, burning him to a crisp. She kneeled next to the fallen elven woman on the ground and examined the cut. It was obviously deep, with copious amounts of blood spilling out. More than that, it had a slight tinge of green to it, the blade was poisoned.

The woman was taking deep breaths, her eyes closed and face sweaty. Her companions were frantic in the background, with loud arguing and yelling about healing potions. She was going to die of blood loss soon if Irina didn't do something.

She dove into her pack, took out a potion of mana, and gulped it down. Then she knit her eyebrows together in intense concentration while placing her hands over the cut. Healing was similar to sewing in a sense. You had to stitch skin and tissue back together, and if you weren't good at it, it was bound to fail. Though Irina wasn't the top healer in all Tamriel, she was competent enough in her field. She could just vaguely make out the woman's screams in her mind at the pain of it. Healing did hurt like a bitch, so she didn't blame her. 

The magicka in the air here was much weaker than that of Tamriel. Beads of sweat dripped from Irina's face as little wisps of mana hastily sewed the broken tissue back together and replaced all that was lost. As the spell began stopping midway, she pushed down harder on the elf's cut and whispered a prayer to Y'ffre to allow this to work, just this once. That seemed to do the trick as the cut slowly started to return to normal, and by the time Irina truly could go any further, the wound was healed. 

Her hand shook as she reached into her bag and pulled something out, a vial of sorts. The surrounding area was quiet, aside from the chirping of birds. She looked at the elf on the ground and practically dropped the vial on her stomach.

"Poison," She mumbled, her eyelids almost closed, but she pushed on. The elf stared at her with wonder. "His blade was poisoned. Take it." Then Irina fell back on the hard ground, with one last thought. 

She knew she shouldn't have listened to the bloody mad god of all people.

Chapter Text

The breeze hit her hair rather softly as she walked out onto the terrace of the balcony, avoiding the rubble of the broken castle behind her. She gazed out into the once golden city before devoid of the light and passion that had driven it so long ago. Now, like the castle, it was only a shadow of its former self. Of the whole place’s former glory. 

The woman sighed and went back inside. A miracle was what they needed, a miracle he said couldn’t possibly come to fruition, but she knew it could. It  had  to happen. If it didn’t all, this would be for naught.

She walked into the large foyer, avoiding pieces of rubble on the ground. The argument they had yesterday was still buzzing in her thoughts. He wouldn’t understand, she didn’t know why. There was a chance now, the miracle that they needed right there before them, and yet he denied it vehemently, claiming that ‘they should be happy they’re still alive.’ Well, she couldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

She paced the stone halls until she came upon his study room, and pushed the golden, now rusted, door open. All around the room were the sounds of shuffling papers, bubbling liquids, and materials being crushed or creatures benign studied. Balls of light danced around her body in a warm greeting, unlike their master, the man standing at the center of the room near a giant orb.

Taking a deep breath for confidence, she walked over to him with great strides and stopped right behind him. She took another breath and started.

“You know why I am here.” She said. Her voice made the little blue balls of light pause, and then frantically clamor for the door. They knew what was coming.

The man was still staring at the orb. His wrinkled hands came to rest on its smooth surface. “Yes, I suppose I do.” He responded. A little relief came to her. At least he was talking.

She continued on. “The girl. Should we just contact her-”

The man turned to face her. He had no eyes, but it wasn’t hard to feel the anger that radiated off of him. “Are you a child? No means no.” He said. “The mortal world has no need for our interference at the moment. Leave.”

She balled up her fist but tried not to let her anger show on her face. “You have no qualms about what happened to us? To you? What they did to us was unforgivable.  She  could help us-”

“You are so caught up in the past, you can not see the present.” The man spitted out. “The aedra did nothing to me, they only punished you. You are millennials old, and yet you still behave as a petty child would. Let it go.”

Oh, damn this. “Did nothing to you? I suppose they couldn’t when you ran with your tail between your legs.” The man stiffened. “You seem to think, I forget. How could I when your exit was so grand? You left me there to die-” She said.

“I am sorry you think that way. But was I supposed to stay there and fight a war you had already lost?” It was her turn to pause. “You were a fool. You still are a fool, in fact, and this place,” He pointed out to the sky. “is our punishment. I intend to not make it worse.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. That’s right; this was her punishment, but for what? What was her crime? All she did was create. She held her hands to her eyes as she sobbed, her tears were the color of the brightest gold. 

The man in front of her turned around and put her into a gentle embrace, making her cry harder. The sky outside seemed to rumble and flash lighting. The spirits felt the disturbance in the air and were getting restless, just like their creator.

“You need to calm down.” He said while pulling away. He smelled of old books and pinewood. “We can go for a walk later. Perhaps it’ll help placate your mood.” She nodded and sat down on the cold stone floor. The sky outside lacked the luster of the mortal world. Green and black seemed to mix together into a dreadful swirl of colors, with floating islands and statues. All contained memories and dreams, either stolen or given up for power. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall, while the frightened orbs rushed back into work again.

Maybe tomorrow would be better. At least that’s what she hoped.