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The Psijic's Confession

The following letter was found by its intended recipient still sealed and undelivered on the body of the daedric priestess Eldafire.  It is addressed to Soryn Uvirith, Archmagister of House Telvanni in the 2nd Era, and was penned by the Psijic monk Suurundil.  The events described take place over a thousand years before the events of The Elder Scrolls III.

Dear Soryn Uvirith,

I wanted to tell you this years ago, when you first arrived on my doorstep that fateful morning with those emerald green eyes of yours blazing brightly with both rage and passion.  But forgive an old man his emotions – I was not expecting that I would at last meet you after all these years in the arms of my young wife.  But I cannot deny my fate and in truth I fear that we are much the same.  As my college Mannimarco once said many years ago: you are my sin come back to haunt me.  Allow me now to explain: for my folly is written in your blood.

When I was very young, no more than a child, my magical abilities were already sensed to be beyond that which my family and mentors were able to comprehend.  I was thus discovered and sent off to the disappearing island of Artaeum where I was embraced with open arms and shut away from the world.  I was raised a monk in the mystic Psijic Order and learned to see beyond the mortal realm through the study of the Elder Way.  I learned things which can never be explained to one outside the Order, not even to you, but that is not my reason for writing you now.

When I became a young man, I was sent to the glittering city of Alinor on assignment by the Order to act as consultant to the king of Summerset and to tutor the crown princess, Aardawe – a great honor for one such as myself.  I took my duties very seriously and found that the king was wise and just and the young girl was quick to learn and hungry for knowledge.  The kingdom knew peace while I stood humbly by the great ruler's side and all was well in Summerset.

I developed quite a fondness for the young princess, and she for me, as her studies progressed through the years.  Such things are natural between student and teacher.  But when she came into the age of womanhood I began to detect that she felt more for me than simply admiration for her mentor.  She began calling me to her chambers late at night, wishing to discuss the mysteries of life until well into the morning.  Always I indulged her while keeping a respectful distance.  But the crown princess of Summerset was indeed a beautiful woman, with snow white hair falling in soft ringlets down her back nearly to her ankles and emerald green eyes which glowed with all of the passion and fury of youth and vigor.  She had many servants to attend and dote on her, but despite this she was modest in her actions and demeanor.  She spoke with a refined and poetic air, and I considered her education to be my finest achievement.  No man could resist her, though she was betrothed to the Prince of Cloudrest who was destined to take over the kingdom of Summerset after the passing of her father.

Despite her pampered lifestyle, the young princess was lonely, for her position necessarily caused her safety and image take precedence over her own happiness.  Such is the way of politics.  She had few to truly converse with and I was by far her favorite choice.  Even when I was wandering the gardens in contemplative meditation she would find me, her beautiful eyes radiating joy and warmth, and she would embrace me, taking my hand and asking me to explain, once again, the mysteries of the world's creation and the origin of magic.  I excelled in my duties, and filled her head with stories of gods and mortals, of otherworldly daedric planes and buried secrets written in the geography of Nirn itself.  But I was only another hired servant, a young monk in grey robes.  And I must not forget my place.

After a time she grew tired of stories of aedra and daedra, and became more interested in unlocking the secrets of the mind and soul.  She called me to her with increased frequency and would beg me not to retire.  But how could I refuse?

"My lady, I am merely your humble servant," I would reply, "I shall do as you command."

"You are much more than that.  You are wise and powerful, yet you treat me with such respect and affection.  I find that I cherish you above all others in the universe," she would say tenderly.  My heart would race at her words but I knew I must not fall in love with her, for to do so would be dangerous.  And so I remained silent.

"What is love?" she would ask.

"There are many kinds of love," I would reply, describing them all in detail and enjoying her captive attention.

"Will I ever find romantic love?" she would ask with a hint of teasing in her voice.  I could sense her desires, but knew I must not give in.

"It is nearly certain that you will," I replied, "For a woman as beautiful and intelligent as yourself is sure to have many admirers.  I hear that your betrothed is also attractive and well-learned and it is my sincere hope that you find love together."  She pursed her lips at this, as though disliking the thought.  In truth she had never met her intended, and was unlikely to do so for another year still.

"But it is not certain that I will love him," she replied.  It was less a question than a statement, "I can see it in your eyes."

"It is never certain where love will grow," I replied, "Even I cannot know that."  She reached up to kiss me, but I turned my head, much to her disappointment.  'Ah, but if only she was other than the crown princess,' I thought sadly, for in truth she was perfect in every way.  She seemed hurt by my reaction so I took her tenderly in my arms.

"Do not despair, sweet Aardawe," I told her, "You are young, and have so much to live for.  You will find love and it will fill your heart near to bursting."

"Ah, but I believe I already have, otherwise I did not fully comprehend your lesson," she replied.  I only smiled in reply.  She was so young still.

"Can love blossom where it is forbidden?" she asked.

"Yes, it can indeed," I replied after a pause.

"And can love occur where it is not returned?" she asked.

"It can, although the greatest love will consummate itself between two people and burn brightly when it is consumed by the never ending fire of passion," I replied.

"I fear then that I shall never know this all-consuming passion that you describe," she whispered softly.  Before I could reply, she added, "Because I fear that I love you, and that you do not return my affection."  I wanted to take her in my arms and kiss her, to tell her that I loved her more fiercely than anything else in the universe, but I knew that I could not and so kept my distance.

"I cannot say that I do not love you, for it would be a lie of the gravest sort," I finally confessed, "But there are times when there are more important matters at stake than simply love.  You are destined to marry the Prince of Cloudrest, and my duty is to prepare you for that task, and for that of reigning over our people as queen of Summerset.  It is a grave crime for a member of my Order to engage in romantic relations with his pupils, and would almost certainly mean my death at the hands of your father.  In truth I have no desire to lose my head, for I have only yet begun to comprehend the mysteries of the spirit realm of Mythic Arubis and am not yet ready to join my ancestors.  Likewise I have no desire to soil your reputation or to send this peaceful kingdom into ruin.  I would surely be banished from Artaeum and even my death would not atone for such a grave transgression.  The ancient alliance between the Psijic Order and the kings of Summerset would stand in peril."  She nodded as though she understood, but I could see in her eyes that she did not.  I left her chambers early that night, and spent well into the next morning meditating on my quandary and trying to calm the racing of my heart as well as my mind.

The next morning she found me once more in the garden, and was as free and gay as if nothing had transpired between us.  I tried to console myself that all was well, until once again she called me into her chambers.

"What is this element of romantic love which consumes its sufferers with such passion that their bodies light on fire as well as their hearts and souls?" she asked.  Even one as refined and learned as me was unprepared to fully answer this question, so I hesitated before replying.  'Oh,' I thought, 'If only I had been assigned to mentor a male protégée, or a female of lesser beauty, for this is torture of the highest magnitude.'

"It is sexual love," I replied, trying to hide my horror at what I was now being asked to explain.  But there was no way out of it.  I was assigned to teach the young princess everything she desired to know, and this was no exception.  It would be unethical to neglect this portion of her education.

"Explain the manifestations of this love on the body, and how it is expressed within the context of romantic love," she requested leisurely, lying back on her exquisitely carved glittering bed.  I took a deep breath to calm myself, as I began describing the various ways in which men and women express their love in a physical manner.  The princess was enraptured, and I could see her cheeks flush with excitement at my words.  I found I could hardly look at her, for my voice became softer and deeper as I fought to conceal my desire for her.  When finally my lecture came to an end, I glanced carefully at her with a raised eyebrow, waiting for her reaction and anticipating any questions she might have.  She merely gazed deeply into my eyes, her glowing emerald orbs piercing the grey of my own.

"You must show me these wonders," she finally said, her voice soft and inviting.  I tore my gaze away.

"I cannot," I replied, "I will tell you all that you ask, but you must experience this particular magic with your husband, the future King of Summerset."

"But you yourself said that sexual love is all too often empty without romantic love to fill the void," Aardawe replied cautiously, "And I do not love my future husband, and you have admitted that I may never feel such love for him."  She was shrewd indeed, and there was little I could do to stop the increased pace of my breath or the racing of my heart.  Still, I would not give into lust.

"Please, Aardawe – you know that I am forbidden from laying a hand on you in such a manner.  If you continue to tempt me I fear that I shall one day give into you and we will both be damned," I told her.  As soon as it left my mouth I knew it was a mistake, for I caught the quick smile on her face.  She clearly did not understand what was at stake and I knew her desires could not be so easily sated.

"You have also said that love can blossom even where it is forbidden," she replied, "And what if this is the only love I am destined to experience?  Shall I be doomed never to experience these things simply because I am the crown princess?"  I knelt on one knee and took her hand.

"Please, Aardawe, allow me to return to my quarters.  Tomorrow I shall tell you anything you like, answer any questions you may have, but please do not ask this of me again," I begged.

"Oh Suurundil, I would never force you to do anything.  You are free with me.  Please do not consider yourself my servant.  I think of you as so much more and I believe I truly am in love with you.  I mean you no harm, and promise on my life that none shall come to you.  I know it is foolish, and that you think me very young and naïve, but I understand that I can not have you forever.  But I wish for this time to be made the most of so that I might remember you all my life, through all that is to come, whether that future is my will or not," she said, reaching down to caress my long black hair.

"Dearest princess, I have seen such things happen, and know that you would be even more devastated when we were parted than if we were never together.  I see nothing but pain in this path for you, and I would never willingly do anything to hurt you.  I could never forgive myself if I did.  Please allow me at least this small comfort," I begged.  My voice was shaking, and I sought to restrain it.  Finally she nodded, and after a long embrace allowed me to return to my quarters.  I spent the night meditating, once again unable to sleep, but the visions I saw were both disturbing and wonderful and they did little to quench the fire that was beginning to consume me.

She did not even wait for the next night to usher me into her quarters.  I was hoping to escape for the afternoon, to walk about the city glittering in the high sun as the light reflected across the giant iridescent insect wings that were the defining feature of Alinor's architectural masterworks.  I was even debating sending in a request for reassignment to the Psijic Order itself, although I was fearful that my request would be viewed as failure of my first assignment.  But Aardawe accosted me at breakfast, her long white hair flowing with the breeze as she walked.  Her eyes were full of puzzlement, with a hint of smug secrecy that instantly alerted me that something was about to happen.  For many centuries afterward I pondered what would have happened if I had truly taken note of this warning, if I had come up with an excuse to deny her next request.  How different things would have been for us both.  But alas curiosity got the better of me and I set down my sweet-bread to follow her once more to her private chambers.

When we arrived she told me that she was sorry to disturb me from my meal, but she wanted to apologize for putting me in such an indelicate position last night.  I waved her apology instantly, saying that it was not necessary and that I was in truth flattered by her attentions.  She smiled at this, and told me that she had just one question before she allowed me to retire for the afternoon and then would say no more on the subject thereafter.

"Am I beautiful?" she asked coyly.  I could not help but smile as I assured her that she was, indeed, the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on.  I assured her of the beauty of her face, of her hair, her lips, her eyes, her hands, the graceful way she walked, and how her very presence lit up a room.  I described to her of the joy and admiration I had witnessed on the faces of others as they beheld her.  I told her that her beauty was as great inside as out, and that I had been pleasantly surprised by her quick mind and thirst for knowledge.  I confided that being assigned to mentor her had brought me such joy that I had never known, and that indeed all who met her were enchanted as though she had cast a powerful spell over them.  She smiled at my words and stepped closer, slipping her delicate arms about my waist.

"But you have not truly seen me," she said.

"I know your mind and soul as well as my own," I assured her, unable to stop myself as I ran my hands through her long silky white hair.

"Do they teach you then, at Artaeum, to judge the beauty of women?" she asked.  I could not help but laugh.

"Not as such, but I consider myself well enough versed in such things.  It is an innate primitive ability, one that rarely requires formal training," I mused, "So trust me when I say that you are indeed beautiful.  You should never worry about such things."  She pulled away and I could not help but smile as she glanced up nervously, running her hands down her back.  I was so admiring the beauty of her delicate face that I did not really notice what she was doing.  I crossed my arms, amused at the frivolous questions coming from the mouth of the very same learned princess who used to ponder the essence of a soul as it lay trapped in a gemstone for days upon end.

"Would you then look upon me in my natural state, without the trappings of a princess, and tell me once again whether or not I am beautiful in comparison to other women?" she asked softly.  Before I could utter a word, her hands unclasped one final button and her beautiful glistening dress fell in a heap at her feet where she now stood as Lorkhan had fashioned her.  My eyes widened, and for a long moment I was speechless.  Her long glistening hair draped elegantly across her shoulders, highlighting a slender neck curving gracefully down to delicate shoulders.  Her full breasts were quivering slightly, more from nervousness than cold, although her little round nipples stood softly as though a summer breeze had entered her bedchamber.  They matched her ruby lips and looked absolutely divine against her light golden skin.  Her waist was small and firm leading gracefully down to soft yielding virginal hips and long beautiful legs.  She clasped one arm around her middle and braced the other behind her back as though trying to keep herself from covering her charms.  She seemed to take notice of this, and shifted accordingly so that both arms were now clasped gracefully behind her back.  Her head remained bowed and I could see that her cheeks were flushed through the small snowy ringlets that fell across her emerald eyes.  Her breathing became deeper and more rapid, causing her chest to rise and fall as a soft sigh escaped her lips.  The roundness of her hips was even more accentuated by the contrasting curvature of her small waist and I could not help but notice the trickle of moisture that glistened from between her thighs, putting to shame even the most iridescent of Alinorian architecture.  As I said, she was perfect… in every way.  And she was not lying when she said that she wanted me.  Finally I tore my gaze from her exquisite form, unable to quiet the fire that welled up within me and threatened to consume us both.  I closed my eyes, trying to collect my thoughts.

"You are beautiful," I whispered finally, my head awash with conflicting emotion.  I felt next her smooth body pressed against me, her arms wrapped once more around my waist.  I stood paralyzed, unsure how to proceed.  Next she took my hand, interlacing her fingers with my own as she brought them to her lips and kissed them tenderly.  I could only watch as she leisurely toyed with my shaking hands, bringing one down to cup her breast.  At the moment I felt her soft flesh upon my fingertips, she gazed up at me longingly, tilting her head back to kiss me passionately as I felt her little tongue press sweetly into my mouth.  I was undone.  That kiss sealed our fate forever.

The princess had paid close attention to my lessons on lovemaking, and I found myself lost in a sea of passion.  My mind was able to reach out to hers in a bond of love, and even as our bodies were joined our souls were as well.  Those skilled in the arts of mysticism can often accomplish such feats.  Perhaps you have even experienced this thing yourself.  It is as though one is cast into a trance of ecstasy from which there is no desire ever to escape.  Even when she begged me to enter her for the first time, the cry she emitted spelled pure rapture even as her virginal blood spilled from her body, staining the glistening sheets upon which she lay.  Try as I might, I would never be able to wash that stain away.  I held her close throughout the night, closer than I had ever done before, afraid for us both now that the deed was done.  Ah, but I could not deny, even to myself, how delicious it had been.

I realized the next morning the full extent of my folly, for there was greater evidence of our transgression than the bloodstained sheets.  Since I had not intended to bed the princess, I had not thought ahead in my heightened state of passion to concoct a potion to render myself sterile for the process.  Despite the fact that I had warned the princess of such things in my earlier lectures, her desire for me was too great to have been concerned.  Poor child, she trusted me too much.  As the deed was already done, I could only pray that nothing came of it.  My prayers were, alas, not answered.  When she called on me again, I was quick to drink my home brewed remedies, but I knew they would not erase the grievous error of that first night.  At first I was only afraid of being discovered, for discovery spelled my death, and would create a deep rift between the Order and the kingdom of Summerset.  I was not worried for myself so much as for Aardawe, for I knew she loved me so deeply that she would never recover from my execution and would blame herself for my death and the tragedy that would inevitably follow.  But as time went on I came to sense the little life inside of her.  It was strong, and soon it would be present for all to see.  I noticed even before she did, but it was not long before our sin was plain to all the world.  The joy and reverence that had followed the princess wherever she went turned to whispers and revulsion: gossip over the latest scandal.

I grew terribly afraid, and resigned myself to writing my own will.  I intended to leave everything, of course, to Aardawe and hoped only that she would be permitted to accept it.  Ritual suicide may atone for some transgressions, but not all.  My psijic ring I intended to hide under her pillow, so that it might perhaps give her comfort in my absence.  On the day that her parents, the king and queen, finally confronted their daughter I resigned myself to silent meditation.  When the doors of my quarters were at last thrown open and I saw the rage in the king's eyes and the tears in the eyes of the queen, I truly believed that I was done for.  What they said next shocked me.

"Our daughter has been violated by that horrid Nord slave we keep to tend the stables, Rothgar.  She was so humiliated that she hid the sheets from the encounter and sealed her lips, but that bastard growing inside of her won't stay a secret for much longer.  Bring that foul rapist forth at once for immediate execution.  Once he is arrested, I need you to call forth the executioner.  Then go and comfort my daughter – for she's understandably distraught by all of this.  You are both to attend the execution at sundown.  At least the sight of his death should give her some solace in her time of misery," the king hissed, nearly knocking over my carefully concocted potions as he stormed out.  The queen followed behind him in tears, still murmuring, "Oh my poor, poor beautiful daughter…"

I could understand her lie.  I had no wish to die, and I knew full well that my death would destroy her and in fact had the potential to send the entire kingdom into ruin.  But to condemn an innocent man to die for my own sin?  This could be the way to not only preserve my life, but preserve the sacred threads of the Order that held together the kingdom of Summerset.  But would this act damn my own soul?  At least the victim was only a slave.  The well being of the kingdom was surely worth more than the life of one single wretched slave.  My heart caught in my throat as I gathered the guards and headed down to the stables to seek out Rothgar, the man who was sentenced to die in my place.  I found him, tending the horses as usual.  I watched him, whistling while he worked.  My heart nearly froze at what I was about to do.

"Rothgar," I said, keeping my tone as formal as possible.  The guards readied their weapons as he turned around, setting down the rag he was currently using to polish the royal horseshoes until they shone like the sun.  I took a deep breath so as to steady my voice.

"You are hearby charged with the rape of Princess Aardawe and sentenced to death at sundown.  You are to come with us immediately," I said.  The man's eyes widened in terror and he began shaking.

"No!  You can't be serious!  I have never even been in the same room with the princess!  I have a wife and three children!  Please, you have to listen!  I had no access to the princess, no motive!  I've always been a good, honest worker!  Why blame me?!  I'm innocent!  Innocent!" he pleaded, backing away in horror as the guards advanced.  Three children?  Why did Aardawe implicate this man, of all the slaves she could have chosen to die?  But I could not counter her, or risk calling the princess a liar.  Trying to choke back my tears, I continued.

"The princess's testimony, not to mention her bloodstained sheets and the bastard child in her belly, are proof enough of your guilt.  You must come now: as a condemned criminal you are not permitted to have contact with anyone," I said, trying hard to keep my gaze fixed on the terrified man.

"Princess's testimony, my ass!  Royalty can lie as well as the rest of us.  That dumb spoiled slut got herself knocked up by some high elf dandy or another, but it wasn't me!  I won't die for that little whore's lies!" he yelled.  The guards seized him, knocking him to the ground when he resisted and causing him to double over in pain.  Still he fought, and I was worried that the execution would turn into a battle to the death – and that the strong Nord might actually triumph over one or more of the guards before he was finally taken down.

"I'll not go willingly without a fight!" he cried, doubling over in pain as a sword slashed his belly, "I have a wife and children to think of!"

"You will come willingly, or your wife and children will die by your side," I told him, unable to keep my voice from cracking.  He ceased his struggling immediately, breaking down into pathetic sobs.  I tore myself away from the sight, and set out to find the executioner.  He was sleeping in his house when I arrived, but woke immediately with a gleeful look in his eye as I handed him a large sack of coins and explained the delicate nature of the situation.

"I take it the king wants me to use my rustiest ax for this one," he mused, "I can throw in a little torture too.  Might be good measure to cut off his genitals beforehand and make him hold the bloody things in his mouth while I chop off his head.  A good stretching and disemboweling is always fun for the crowd too."  I nearly vomited, my nervousness was so high.  It was clear that if the princess had told the truth and implicated me, I would be suffering those exact consequences.

"No, just… make it quick and clean.  The princess will be in attendance and she doesn't really like the sight of blood.  Besides, I think the sight of her rapist's severed genitals is more likely to bring back the memories of what happened than alleviate them," I lied, trying to hide the horror I felt for what was happening around me.  Still, I had little choice but to play my part.

Once I readied the executioner, I raced to Aardawe's quarters.  She was in tears, but smiled a little when she looked up and saw me standing in the doorway.

"Why?  Why implicate that man, of all your slaves?" I asked softly, finally able to allow myself to let the horrible emotions of the situation wash over me and be expressed in her presence.

"I don't know.  I couldn't think of another name, and I knew I had to implicate someone.  I just couldn't let it be you.  I love you too much.  What's going to happen?" she sobbed.

"He's sentenced to die.  I just arrested and sentenced him myself.  And I've hired the executioner.  We are both to attend his execution at sundown," I said, holding her in my arms.  Was my life really worth so much more than that of this slave?  Aardawe seemed to firmly believe so, and I let that thought comfort me.  After all, I was a member of the monastic Psijic Order and he was only a lowly slave who was undoubtedly captured during our country's war with Skyrim.  I knew it was the best solution to all of our troubles now that the deed was done.  But he was innocent, and I was not.  That knowledge troubled me greatly.

The execution proceeded on schedule, and I attended with the princess by my side.  Her parents stood nearby, overlooking from the same balcony.  Rothgar was lead up to the podium shaking and crying, but all of the fight had left the condemned man.  As he was made to stretch out his neck on the chopping block, he only cried, "Please, tell my wife Helga that I love her and…" He never got any further as the ax severed his neck and ended his life.  At least it had been quick.  Aardawe's face was grim, and she kept her hand over her belly.  No one would ever believe that she had not had her justice.

"Now that this dreadful business is over with, I have received wonderful news.  Prince Erindor of Cloudrest still has every intention of wedding you, and was very saddened to learn of your unfortunate condition.  He sends his condolences, and promises that as soon as the bastard infant is discarded we may commence planning the wedding festivities," the queen said, hugging her daughter tightly and running her golden fingers though her long white hair.  Now Aardawe, whose face had remained calm and collected throughout the execution, melted into sheer horror.  Clearly she had not thought of this.  She began sobbing violently, clutching her belly and shaking.

"Come now, you'll be rid of that thing inside of you soon enough," her father said, "You can't have more than a few weeks left."  She continued sobbing, looking up at me as though begging for help.  But my hands were tied and she knew it.

"Let me take her back to her quarters," I offered, "She's been through so much as of late that she cannot possibly be expected to keep her emotions bottled up like this.  Many women, even princesses, are forced into a state of emotional flux when their bodies are overrun by the hormones of pregnancy – especially in a situation where they did not choose it of their own free will."  Her mother nodded sympathetically, her eyes full of pity, and even her stern father looked genuinely concerned.  Forcing myself to remain expressionless I lead the princess back into her quarters.

The next few weeks passed as though through a nightmare.  The king kindly suggested that I begin making preparations to depart, as my services would no longer be needed after his daughter was wed and preparations were made for his own retirement.  He paid me a handsome sum for my services, more so than I was usually given, and mentioned that he hoped I would be called upon again to tutor the young children of Aardawe and her new husband Erindor.  I bowed, saying that I would be honored, and thanking him for his hospitality all these years.  As I made preparations during the day to return to the monastery at Artaeum, I spent my nights in quiet meditation as I prepared myself for the unavoidable loss of my lover.  I knew that there could never be another like her, yet I also knew that my love had brought her only pain.  I hoped that her new husband would be as wonderful as he was rumored to be, and that she would find love – true love – once again after my inevitable departure.  I could only pray that she would find happiness in his arms.  For we two were never meant to be.  It was forbidden love, and thus it must end, and its ending could be only be in sorrow.  At the same time I needed to harden myself for what was to come and help the princess through yet another loss: that of our child.

I was not permitted in the birthing room as it was not considered appropriate, my being a male, to look upon the princess in such a state.  But I had grown so close to her that my mind was able to reach out in a meditative trance and meld with hers.  I could feel her pain, and tried to take some of it away in what limited ways I could.  The process nearly killed her, for she lost so much blood.  It was all I could do to keep from running to her side, trusting in the physicians to keep her alive as I waited in silent meditation.  I could feel the life inside of her also, reaching out to my mind as I sought out hers.  It was strong: very strong.  It could already sense me in its mother's mind, and it was not yet even a member of this world.  It would be born under the sign of the Atronach – a fitting fate, for the child would be both powerful and cursed.  But that child was not meant to be.  Finally it came forth from her womb, and as she collapsed on the bed she was bathed and pampered, the final bloody mass leaving her body as she lay, half-conscious, trying to gaze up at her newborn infant through foggy tear-stained eyes.  But it was merely cast aside on a nearby table as the attendants came to wash her, a forgotten byproduct of the gruesome process.

"May I see my baby?" she asked, her voice faint as she struggled against the blood loss to retain consciousness.

"Oh no, it's best if you don't dear.  It's a nasty ugly monster not fit to have grown in the womb of such a beautiful woman.  You'll have plenty of beautiful healthy babies with Prince Erindor though – he's a fine looking man.  And the good news is that this little disaster will make giving birth very much easier in the future.  It's best that you forget all about this incident.  It's over now, go to sleep," the nurse said, soothing back Aardawe's long white hair.

"I want to see my mentor.  Please?  Please call Suurundil," she said quietly, her eyes brimming with silent tears.

"Yes dear, he and your parents are both on their way right now," she said.  Indeed I was not, for I was still watching through her mind from afar, but just then a knock sounded at my door and her mother entered, beckoning me to follow.  We all hurried to the princess' side, ignoring the discarded infant on the side table.  But I could feel it watching us.  My attention now was on my beloved, who languished in bed.

"Please can I see my baby now?" she asked, her eyes closing as she focused on her breathing to remain conscious.

"Oh darling, it's better if you don't look upon that monster.  Trust me: it'll be much easier on you.  I have its shroud here – we'll send Suurundil off to dispose of it in just a moment," the queen said, taking her daughter's hand in her own.

"No, no I want Suurundil to stay here with me, and I want to look at it," she cried, her eyelids fluttering as she fought to stay awake.  I stood nearby, helpless as she slipped into unconsciousness.  She would live though, for she was strong and the healing magic had already begun to take effect on her delicate frame.

"Just take that thing and be rid of it well beyond the city walls.  The wildlife generally makes quick work of the remains out there, so it's unlikely that some poor fool will come across it.  I always find those little things a gruesome sight while out hunting.  Here's the shroud – you know the place," her father whispered, pressing a small black cloth into my hands.  The nurse turned and picked up the infant by its leg, causing it to scream as she nearly threw it at me.

"Horrid thing," she muttered, turning back to the princess.

It was then that I got my first good look at my child: a son with hair as raven black as my own and the deep glowing emerald eyes of his mother.  He was beautiful.  Already I could feel his gaze staring up, searching me with a profound curiosity.  He had already quieted from being thrown across the room and seemed interested in the figures scurrying about around him.  He turned his head, and I supported him as he looked back at the sleeping figure of his mother.  He struggled then, trying to squirm back to her, and crying when I held him tight.  The entire room shot me icy glares.

"Get rid of that thing.  Immediately," the queen ordered, turning back to her sleeping daughter.  I knew that if I hesitated a moment longer our secret would risk being revealed, and it would spell an even worse disaster for myself and the princess.  I turned, leaving the room as I headed out of the castle with my child in my arms.  He was still looking up at me with those beautiful green eyes and I could feel his mind reach out as though questioning me.  I was beyond distraught, and as soon as I left the inner sanctum of Alinor I began to weep.  Already I was in love with this child, and now I was being asked personally to kill him.  I knew that this child would likely have been condemned to the same grizzly fate if my guilt had been admitted, but somehow it seemed so much worse to be asked to do this foul deed myself.  I had been able to steel myself against condemning an innocent man to die in my place, consoling myself that I would be able to do far greater good in life than a lowly slave and knowing that my death would destroy Aardawe, and possibly the kingdom of Summerset.  But I was not sure I could handle the murder of my own son, this child who looked at me already with so many questions, who looked at me through his mother's beautiful glowing eyes.  When the child reached up to grab a clump of my long black hair, I could not stop myself from looking down at him, my mind racing frantically for a way to save him.  He smiled up at me, unaware that he was traveling in my arms to his own death.

Finally we reached the place of exposure, an empty clearing littered with small black shrouds containing tiny bones.  I sensed a movement from one of the shrouds, but it was only a rat picking through the remains.  It hissed when it saw me, and ran away.  No one ever visited this macabre landmark.  Unable to force myself to separate the tiny child from my arms, I sat on a rock nearby and held him tightly, tears flowing freely.  One of my tears landed on the baby's nose and he sneezed, latching onto my cloak with his tiny, perfectly formed mouth.  He was hungry, and I had nothing to feed him.  Even if I stayed with this child he would be dead before long from starvation and the king would be sure to notice my delay.  More tears fell as I contemplated his grim fate.  I told myself that I should place the shroud over him and go, for he was already dead, as was the custom of our people.  But I could not bring myself to do it.

I could sense a presence in the area, followed by more, but I cared little about who saw me sitting in this forsaken area littered with the bones of unwanted children.  When I felt a knife at my back, I almost welcomed the chance for death.  As I slowly turned around, the infant was snatched cruelly from my arms.  He cried, reaching out for me, but I could only remain still.  They were Nordic raiders, five of them.  I could take them out if I chose with only a single word.  What fools they were.  Choking back my tears, I regained my aura of indifference.

"Yes?" I asked, as calmly as possible.

"You'd best be giving us all of your gold if you value your life!" one of the men hissed, pressing the knife further into my back until he drew blood.  I remained still.

"I have no gold, for I am but a simple monk," I told them calmly, gesturing towards the grey monastic robes I always wore.  At that point I genuinely did not care if my life was ended, for it was causing me too much grief to bear.

"Perhaps you might change your tune if you value the life of this child!" a large woman sneered as she held my newborn infant son in her arms.  An idea came to mind, desperate, but better than any that had yet materialized.

"I have told you that I have no money.  However, the child you now hold in your hands is worth a fortune in gold.  You have with you the crown prince of Summerset," I lied.  A murmur went through the crowd.

"Well I'll be damned.  And what's he doing here?" the woman asked, looking down at the boy in wonder.

"I have come here to bless him amidst the bones of his forbearers, as all royal children are blessed.  I am one of the few monks ordained capable of performing the ritual ceremony," I continued the lie, keeping my face as calm as possible.  It was ridiculous, for there was no such ceremony, but it was also clear that they were buying it.  Nords were never very bright.

"Well how 'bout that," the large woman mused, wrapping the shroud around the infant to keep him warm as he suckled on its edges.  To her, the death shroud was no more than a simple blanket.

"We'll take him far away, somewhere where they'll never find him, and demand a huge ransom for his return!" another of the men suggested gleefully.  I feigned shock.

"But he will die unless his mother, the Queen of Summerset, is able to nurse him soon!  You won't get a penny if he dies!" I protested, "And I will surely be hanged for his disappearance!"  The Nords laughed heartily.

"He doesn't need a queen's milk.  Mine'll do just fine," the woman laughed, exposing her large breast for the infant.  He latched on immediately and began suckling greedily.  I was relieved.  At least he was safe for the moment, and was unlikely to starve.

"If you stay in the area, the king's men will surely hunt you down!" I protested once again, suddenly hopeful that this ludicrous plan might actually work.  It was far fetched, but it was better than leaving the infant to certain death by starvation and exposure.  At least now he had a hope of survival.

"Yeah, well, we'll be long out of here before anyone knows anything's wrong.  Hagar, knock that monk out and then stuff a message into his pockets.  We'll expect the first round of our ransom payment within a month.  If your king doesn't pay up, we'll turn his precious little baby boy into one of OUR slaves!" a third man laughed.  I clenched my jaw as I contemplated this turn of events.  Slavery was better than death, and as long as he was alive there was always hope for rescue.  I vowed to find him one day.  But for now, he was safe.

I made a pretense at gasping in horror as I braced myself for the sharp blow to the head that sent me spiraling into unconsciousness.  When I awoke, neither the raiders nor my son were anywhere to be seen.  I staggered back to the castle, grateful for my bloodied physique.  At least I would have an excuse for my tardiness, which may have been otherwise difficult to explain.

When I arrived back at the castle the king and queen were in a most sour state of affairs – that is until they saw my wounds.  At once their expressions turned to concern.  I explained that the monstrous child had been disposed of, but I had been attacked on my way back by Nordic raiders, and that they mentioned that they were staying somewhere within the city walls.  The king ordered out his guard on my behalf, and I tried to hide my secret joy when they turned up nothing.  The child was well on his way… somewhere.  I took the crumpled note from my pocket, shredding it before I incinerated it with a small fireball in my palm to discard the evidence.  No one would ever know that the child was still alive.

At last I went alone to the princess' chambers.

"Did you see our child?" she whispered, still weak from the blood loss.  She gasped when she saw my bloody face, but I assured her that I was fine.

"A boy.  He had your eyes," I told her, "He was nearly as beautiful as his mother, with hair as dark as his father."  At this, she fell into my arms sobbing.

"I hope someday to meet him, if only in the afterlife," she sighed, looking up at me with tears in her eyes, "I would have named him Avaryon – my island, my refuge and solace in this world of tragedy."  Somehow, I could not bear to tell her that he was still alive, somewhere, but I was unsure as to his whereabouts or if either of us would ever see him again.  If and when I ever found him, I vowed to send him to her, but for now, it was best to let her grieve.  There was no sense in causing her to hope only to have those hopes dashed once more upon the rocky shore that had become our everyday lives.  We had only a few days together before her impending marriage and my departure.

I stayed by her side during these last days, but refused intimacy.  I told her instead that she should look forward to meeting her new husband, whom I had heard wonderful things about, and tried to console her that she would soon know happiness in her life.  After all, I had brought her only misery, and I had high hopes that her husband would bring her only joy.  She seemed to take some solace in my words, and I begged her to be strong.  She would be queen one day and others would look to her for strength and guidance.  I wished that I knew her fate so that I could see ahead and give her some happy image to hold onto for the future, but my mystic abilities did not yet extend that far so I had only hopes and empty words to give her.

Her husband arrived.  He seemed a kind enough man, a little naïve, but full of optimism.  He confided in me that he had loved Aardawe from the moment he laid eyes on her portrait and had heard wonderful things regarding both her beauty and intelligence.  I assured him that these were not exaggerated, and that she was even more glorious in person.  Later, he confessed to being saddened by the unfortunate turn of events in the recent past and expressed hope that he could turn the young princess' mind to happier things.  I was overjoyed to hear this, and suggested that the pair take many long rides into the forest together, for the princess loved conversation and would surely enchant him with her richly vibrant love of life.  I could not hope for her to marry a better man, if indeed she must marry at all, although she still expressed reservation to me in private.  But she knew as well as I that this was her destiny.

On the day of the wedding, which was a lavish sight indeed, she nearly choked as she said her vows, tears running down her face as she turned back to glance at me through the crowd.  But everyone assumed she was just as overwhelmed with emotion as most brides are on their wedding day and cheered her on with all the love and admiration she rightly deserved.  Erindor himself was nearly overcome with tears at the sight of his beautiful bride beside him, her long white hair complementing the white dress she wore, laced with iridescent golden trim.  She was beautiful.  As for myself, I kept my face neutral, congratulating the new bride after the ceremony with all the warm but platonic civility that her beloved mentor should show her in public.  She would be happier when I was gone and her heart was truly free.  But for now she clung to me in one final embrace, afraid to let me go, yet knowing that the hour had arrived when we must part.

I left the next day while she was still away at her husband's lavish dwelling in Cloudrest.  It was better this way.  It should be he who comforted her now, and not me.  My heart ached to leave her, but I had known all along that this was her fate.  I bid the king and queen farewell, and began my journey back to Artaeum.

I had expected the island to be gone when I returned.  I had feared that I would be expelled for my actions and was prepared to commit suicide to atone for my follies, away from the eyes of the princess and her kingdom… yet my actions seemed to be of little interest to my fellow monks.  But my secret was not unknown to the mystic Order, which had remained strangely quiet throughout the ordeal.

"The child will come back to haunt you," a fellow member, Mannimarco, warned, "But he was fated to be born, and so we allowed it to happen.  You will see him again."  These words gave me comfort despite their ominous nature.  It was explained that I had done my duty, in an odd way, in that the new queen was unlikely to stray again from the path laid out for her by the Order.  But as for myself, I was told to contemplate all I had learned from the experience in the next few centuries while I spent my days transcribing holy manuscripts.

I soon came to realize that the Order had larger problems on its hands than the relatively innocent misdeeds of one lowly monk.  Mannimarco was soon banished from the Order for his dark distortion of our mystic abilities.  He had widened the rift still further between ourselves and the spirit world we so longed to return to through the forbidden practice of necromancy.  His rival, Vanus Galerion soon followed suit, going against the holy Order's wishes and creating an order of mages from the common folk of Summerset.  With them he set out to battle his archrival Mannimarco.  The Order was torn by these events, and so we vanished entirely from the face of Tamriel for 500 years, leaving Summerset to fend for itself until we were needed once again.

When we returned, everything had changed – in ways I cannot possibly describe to one who has not witnessed the final mysteries kept secret by the Order.  I inquired as to the location of that Nordic ship, tracking its whereabouts through various sources until I learned, with horror, that it had been sunk long ago by a legion of Telvanni battlemages near the island of Vvardenfell in Morrowind.  If you have not guessed your part in this by now, dearest Soryn: you were that child on the Nordic ship.  You are my beloved lost child, named for the ship which carried you away from my arms.  Your mother was the late queen of Summerset, and your father has now passed into the realm of our ancestors.  I am only sorry that I could not bring myself to contact you before now, for I spent my entire life wishing to meet you again.  The dark elves were known to be a racist lot, and so I heard no word of you for years.

I found that Aardawe went on, as I had hoped, to live a relatively happy life.  I searched her mind on occasion while I meditated, and learned that she had several children – your half-siblings.  I was happy for her, until I reached her one day on the anniversary of your birth.  I discovered there that she never fully recovered from losing you: her beloved child whom she had never seen.  Every year she lit a candle for you to guide your way in the afterlife.  She would then take a knife and cut herself above her beautiful breast, offering her blood to the gods as she prayed for them to keep you safe.

I wish that you had known her.  I wish that you had taken my advice and visited her as I asked, but I apologize that under the circumstances I was not able to tell you the reason why.  She would have recognized you instantly, despite the fact that she had never had he fortune to lay eyes on you, her beautiful son.  You look so very much like her.

Many centuries after my departure from Alinor I met a young woman while traveling, this time a very attractive Altmer with violet eyes full of fiery passion and admiration.  Her hair was also white, like Aardawe's, with only a hint of blonde.  But this time was different.  Eldafire was the daughter of well-to-do merchants, but she was not royalty – and this meant that she was not betrothed.  At first I suspect she was only drawn to my power and mystique but as time wore on she appeared to appreciate me more and more for my intelligence and demeanor.  Or so I fancied.  To tell the truth I had become lonely as the centuries progressed, and she kept me company many a time as we strolled near the misty lagoons of our homeland, asking questions so deep that I was forced to actually think about their answers before replying.  She wanted to know the true nature of the daedra, the properties of soul gems, the nature of the soul, the art of telekinesis and telepathic communication, and so much more as we walked side by side through the serene landscape.  I found that her mind was strong, but that she possessed a darker side as well.  I found it intriguing, seeking out the corners of her mind as she allowed me to create a link between us.  The crimson blood-splattered shrines had a strange beauty to them, a dark seductive power, and although I have never practiced such things myself I found her fascinating.  I could tell there was another in her past, another great love, but she would not let me see him.  I did not mind, for I held much of my own dark history from her as well.  If only we had trusted enough to share those final images, I may not have been so surprised to see you again under such unfortunate circumstances.

But as it was, I figured we two were well suited for one another.  She was young and beautiful, and brought a vigor to our relationship that I had never experienced, while I brought wisdom and stability.  I could not be as ruthless as she, but she did not seem to mind, instead settling into a quiet respect for me as the keeper of mysteries too great even for her to fully comprehend: for although try she certainly did, she was no psijic.  She was a daedric priestess, and she fancied herself a very powerful one at that.  The irony was that she sincerely believed I did not know about her cultic practices, while in fact little she did remained secret to me.  I simply did not mind.  For what are the daedra but spirits and Gods more attuned to Oblivion, or that realm closer to the Void of Padomay?  I loved her as she was, just as I felt she loved me.  We were married within a short time.  As time went on her disposition softened and she let go of her dark past.  For many centuries I knew happiness.

We were as one soul.  The only part of her mind that remained a mystery to me was her distant romantic past, for I felt no need to pry into her private affairs, especially seeing how carefully and respectfully she kept clear of my own.  Because of this we were quietly content together for many years.

But then one day I came home and felt a strange presence – someone I had not sensed for years: someone strong.  I reached out to my wife to ascertain her whereabouts and saw through her eyes.  She was with you.

I recognized you immediately, and so sat silently outside of our bedchambers, collecting my thoughts but unsure how to proceed.  When you left, you saw me, but made no apology for enjoying my wife.  You did not recognize me, but I could have recognized those eyes anywhere, even blazing in the passion of hatred.  I kept my countenance neutral.  I wanted no fight.  I only wished to speak with you.

"I was wondering when I would finally meet you," I said.  You only laughed.

"I somehow doubt that," you snickered, cocking your head in an amused but wicked grin.  It was clear you were confident in your position and felt yourself my rival.  Believe me when I say I never meant it to be so.

"Have you ever met the queen of Summerset?" I asked, trying to keep my voice calm.  I could not help but notice that you had grown even more strikingly beautiful through the years.

"No, why should I have?" you answered, looking down on me with a cold sneer.

"Your eyes are the very same as hers, and in truth you are the only other on whom I have seen those glowing emeralds.  You should pay her a visit.  She lives in Alinor.  It is no longer a closed city, and is beautiful this time of year," I replied.  When you laughed in my face at the suggestion, my heart nearly broke.  I had waited for your return for centuries, but I did not expect our meeting to go like this.

"Thank you for your kind suggestion, but I prefer to look on eyes the color of amethyst," you said mockingly.  Your voice was full of venom, and I could sense that you were powerful – perhaps even a match for myself, "I can look on my own reflection if I want to see eyes in the same shade as my own."  And with that you left.  No excuses.  No apologies.  No explanation.  It was as though I had been the one to do wrong by you.  Perhaps I had.  Not even a goodbye to the one who had given you life all those years ago.  Manimarco's warning flashed through my mind.  I wanted to follow you, but could not bring myself to do so, although I knew it meant I would never lay eyes on my beloved lost son again.

When I confronted Eldafire, she claimed that you were just another traveling merchant she had known from her youth passing through town, purely platonic of course.  I knew that she was lying, but there was no need to question her.  The entire story had finally come full circle.  I simply nodded and climbed into bed.  For really, what more was there to do?

She told me a short while later that she was pregnant and I knew the child was not mine but yours.  She seemed quite nervous about this, bringing up the issue casually as though hoping I would not notice the fact that I myself had been sterile for quite some time.  But I also knew what she did not: regardless of her infidelity, this child would still be my blood relation, my granddaughter.  So I told her only that I was overjoyed, and could sense her relief immediately.  Why did she think she could hide such things from a psijic?  When your daughter was born I was overcome with emotion, for she looked exactly like her grandmother, Queen Aardawe.  Eldafire seemed panicked that I would notice the glowing green eyes, and in fact I did, but in truth I was overjoyed to see them again.  Your daughter Eldale is beautiful and brilliant, and I loved her as my own.

When I tried next to seek out the queen of Summerset through her thoughts my heart sank, for I could not find her anywhere.  A few days later news spread across the land that our beloved queen had died peacefully in her sleep.  I never saw her again, and I was saddened to learn that you never took the time to visit her as I once suggested.  And now I could not even tell her about the birth of our granddaughter.  I hope that you, at least, meet this child one day and that you love her as much as I loved you when you were first tossed into my arms so long ago.

My health is growing weaker, and I am certain that you shall arrive once again only after I have passed into the realm of spirits.  I missed my chance to get to know you, and so I leave you this letter.  It gives me some comfort to write, and I hope it will answer some of the questions you must have suffered with silently all your life.  Please take care of Eldafire, for I love her still despite her treachery.  In truth I had no desire to compete with my own son for her affections, or those of any woman.  You were always loved and never forgotten.  But you were ill-fated, and for that I have only myself to blame.  Please take care.  I know you will go on to accomplish great things, although I cannot see them clearly.  But I sense your inner strength burning ever more fiercely now that you are grown.  I knew you were destined for great things while still in your mother's womb.  My thoughts were confirmed when I held you in my arms – those beautiful green eyes gazing up at me as though they could pierce my very soul.  And perhaps you have done so, my beloved son.

With love and affection,

This story contains spoilers to Blood of the Daedra... but it works quite well as a story into and of itself, and to be honest, it is still my favorite story that I've written so far.

Hopefully this will satiate my Blood fans until I get back to writing the strange and disturbing adventures of Soryn Uvirith.
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MikaLero Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2014
HOLY SHI($*R*(F&Y*ETCIOSE..... *curls up in a corner to sleep for the next 12 hours because she is now emotionally drained*  WHAAAAAAIIII!?!?!!  *sniffles*  

I haven't read any of your other stuff, I just stumbled upon this in one of the groups I visit regularly.  Stuff like this kills me.  It's like Game of Thrones - emotional masochism.  Omg, WONDERFULLY done.
MistressArachnia Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2014
Thank you!  I'm glad you enjoyed it!  :D
Quillweave Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011
This is really an incredible piece. Gave me shivers. Dark and sad and bittersweet. And your descriptions are beautiful!
MistressArachnia Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011
Thank you so much! I'm kind of a lore nut, so whenever I get a tiny line of description about a place/event/etc my mind just goes nuts playing with it. And the Psijic Order has always intrigued me. :giggle:
Quillweave Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011
Yesss, exactly! I love just getting a little scrap of an idea and expanding it. =D
Ethelle Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
Whoa... Yes, I think this one is definitely my favourite of your writings too. I have memorized this as being lore, rather than fanfiction. Excellent work!

How did Gavin's letter manage to reach Soryn on Eldafire's body, though?

Ah, you typed Valus Galarian (in that part about Mannimarco and his rival), but that's supposed to be Vanus Galerion.
MistressArachnia Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
Thank you so much! :hug: This is actually one of my oldest writings, and it's still my favorite. :D

Hehehe, some things should remain mystery... ;p

Actually, I should write this stupid fanfic in order. :blush:

Hmm, that's an odd typo. I'll fix it. :XD:
Ethelle Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
It is completely utterly awesome! :excited:

Hmf. :plotting: *dedicates the rest of the evening to thinking up possible scenario's*

Stupid fanfic?! Go wash your mouth! :XD:

:D It is odd, indeed. I didn't even really notice it at first, until my eye fell on it again by accident when scrolling. :XD:
Sneeuw-Wolfskers Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2010
I found the beginning of this story particularly beautiful. Two points make me want to ask questions, though- I'll send you a note.
MistressArachnia Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
Thank you! :hug: Of course, ask away. :D
Sneeuw-Wolfskers Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2010
You're welcome! I'm glad I read it. :heart: :hug:
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