Scheduled Disasters
Simon

Chapters

1. The Cat Man Cometh
2. Magnus the Greymind
3. Prophiter
4. Xighden Lienx
5. The Comonna Tong
6. Slaves of the Ascadian Isles
7. Murder in St. Delyn
8. Conspiracy Theory
9. Impractical Magic
10. Fools Rush In (To Their Pockets)
11. Samurai Showdown
12. The Insider
13. Night Falls on Ebonheart
14. Odibaal
15. The Long Road Ahead
16. Dunmer History X
17. Killer Instinct
18. The Fifth Man
19. Tales and Tallows
20. Tel Vos
21. Manifest Destiny
22. Consequences
23. The Twin Lamps
24. The Beginning of the End
25. The Nature of Evil
26. The End of Innocence
27. Enter Sheogorath
28. A Beautiful Disaster
29. Closure



Chapter 22 Consequences

Hearthfire 4

The overcast sky set a rather depressing tone for what was to be an apocalyptic showdown, or so I was told. It was just after dawn and the clouds had robbed me of the magnificent sunrise that I had hoped for. I wanted to awake to gold pouring in across the hills and bouncing along the water. Instead, my final day of existence was filled with looming grey clouds that threatened to rain. And there was a breeze; it wasn’t cool, it was just cold.

I knew it was my final day of existence because I had spoken during Tales and Tallows, in the middle of the night, when the Dremora attacked. I had heard that the dead rose on Tales and Tallows, listening for fools foolish enough to talk. The others said that I was foolish for believing in Tales and Tallows to begin with. It seemed that either way I was a foolish fool. So I decided to forget the opinions of others and focus my worries on impending doom.

Everyone was getting prepared to head into Ald Daedroth. They suited up in their armor and sharpened their blades. Xighden, Snorri, and Magnus seemed quite eager to head in. I found it to be uncharacteristic of Magnus. He was usually quite analytical and cautious. Recently though, and mostly since we’d met him in Sadrith Mora, he’d adapted Snorri and Xighden’s bloodlust. It was only Vailant and I that were uncertain about entering. Vailant seemed very nervous. It was uncharacteristic of him, too. I didn’t think that anyone else noticed, but he was breathing quickly and speaking to himself quietly. If I had known him better, I would have asked him how he felt, but I didn’t, so I didn’t.

There was something else, too. I had been hearing voices out from the distance. I thought that I saw figures of someone following us. At times I could hear shuffling or footsteps. I didn’t bother to tell anyone else about it. They all seemed too occupied with the thought of storming Ald Daedroth and bringing Lemnos’ head out on a stick. Plus, with Magnus’ recent recklessness and Xighden’s fidgeting and twitching, I thought that maybe we were all going a bit crazy, and hearing things was just my symptom.

“All right, listen up you all,” Snorri announced boldly. “Even though Magnus is the only brother of the north with me today, if any one of you dies, I’ll make it my first duty to give you a proper ceremonial cremation, like a true Nordic warrior would receive.” We all thanked him with a half-feigned sincerity, except for perhaps Xighden, who truly had a warrior’s spirit. And with that announcement it seemed fitting that leave.

“All ready?” Xighden asked. The Nords and I made our response: yes. “And you?” Xighden asked Vailant, who sat with his head down. He raised it up to reveal a confident smile.

“Absolutely,” he responded.

The five of us stepped out onto the stony, narrow land bridges that connected the two islands. We paced across them with caution, watching for any possible animal life to pop out of the deeper pools. We were soon standing at the base of the island; Ald Daedroth boasting a powerful presence ahead of us. The island was mostly one large, long, sloping hill that lead up to a near mountain, where the daedric ruins laid. We stood in a united pose for a few moments, staring at the gothic structure. It was Magnus who took the first step up the hill. He was followed by Xighden, and then Snorri. Vailant turned and smiled at me.

“After you,” he said. I followed them, with Vailant behind me. Only a few moments had passed in our hike up the straight path, before Vailant spoke up behind me.

“Snorri, tell me more about this Nordic cremation you mentioned. If someone takes you out, I wouldn’t want to bugger the thing up.” he said, in a macabre jest. Snorri laughed and slowed his pace to equal Vailant’s, falling behind me. Our walk continued, as the two of them conversed just behind me. Magnus and Xighden were significantly ahead of us, their drive to enter the ruins almost pitting them against each other in speed.

My heart began to beat faster as we drew nearer, and I felt something similar to what I felt in Vivec. When I walked down the St. Delyn canton, looking for Nads Theran, I felt a precognitive urgency. It activated just moments before my five natural senses, and was therefore hard to trust, but it was definitely there, undeniably. At the time I had thought that it was because of what lay inside Ald Daedroth. Maybe it was, as well. Being able to think back on it, I should have known. No. I couldn’t have known, not truly. But to think back on what happened and know that I did nothing in response, was painful. My source of regret, my precognitive urgency, was because of what happened next.

I heard a shuffle, and then a more distinctive groan. My pace continued as I turned around to track and identify the sound. When I did so, I did a double-take, not believing what my eyes told me. Clenching Snorri’s shoulders, Vailant stood with a dagger in hand. The blade was sticking into Snorri’s stomach, with blood dripping out. I unsheathed my shortsword, but could not move, as Snorri’s struggles were matched with rapid and repetitive stabs, each one guided into the Nord’s abdomen. The Nord’s grunts then turned into screams, which caught the attention of Magnus and Xighden, far ahead. Snorri wheezed and coughed up blood, grabbing for Vailant as he fell to the ground. I remained still as Magnus and Xighden charged past me, screaming bloody murder upon Vailant. Vailant’s eyes lit up with what may have been fearful, but definitely malicious. He dropped the bloody dagger and held out the green amulet which hung around his neck.

“Immotus!” he shouted, aiming the amulet at the two of them. Their momentum was ceased as the enchanted item worked its magic, paralyzing the both of them. They slowed, and fell down to their knees. Vailant breathed heavily and darted his eyes around at both of them, making sure his enchantment had worked. I was unmoving as well, but not because of the magicka. My shock had kept me in place, and supplemented for the enchantment, which had lacked the range to affect me.

“Yeah, that’s right! I’m the filthiest bastard of them all! You guessed it!” Vailant shouted at them, invigorated by his sinister act. “Well, I suppose you didn’t guess it, did you? If you had, he wouldn’t be dead,” He yelled, kicking Snorri’s gutted body. “I tried to warn you, Magnus. I said it right to your face, that there would be consequences for coming here. There are always consequences. You didn’t listen!” By then, even I could stay silent no longer, and I strode forward with my blade drawn.

“You! Why…what is this!?” I shouted. Vailant was startled by my ability to move. He, with his broadsword drawn, was less than fearful of my presence, though.

“Heh, why? Kid, I’m mercenary. I’m not in this for destiny, or bloodlust, or whatever you’re here for. I’m in this for the money. And someone is paying me a beautiful sum of money to follow you three here and make sure that everything goes smooth. Don’t ask me why, but there are higher powers at work here. Him…Snorri, he wasn’t a part of it. You three are.” I was stunned at the information. 'A part of this? The prophecy?'

“What the hell does that have to do with anything!?” I screamed. “Snorri had to die just because of this prophecy!? You can’t…you can’t just…” My words eluded me, clouded by anger and fear.

“Listen kid, I’m not gonna tell you about what’s right or wrong. This is just how I do business. Frankly, I liked the lot of you. You saved my skin once or twice along the way. Business aside, I would suggest you just leave this place instead of going in there and getting killed. But I’m here for a reason: the money. Whether it’s him or if it was you…I do what I gotta do. So I brought those fake Imperial papers that showed my name listed as a “necessary” player. Then I just had to follow you here and make sure that only three went in, you three.” I found nothing in his excuse that caused me to change me mind. The only thing that I had really noticed was how he called me “kid”. As if he had an understanding about the harsh realities of the world that I was unaware of; that his elevated, veteran perspective somehow softened the blow of such a betrayal. I felt inclined to make him aware of his poor judgment.

“You…you son of a bitch. You’re not leaving here alive,” I said to him, without an aggressive tone but with tears forming at the edges of my eyes. He reached into his pocket to pull something out, but my throwing knife stopped him, skewering his left wrist.

“Aaugh! You damn elf!” he shouted. He charged at me with his broadsword aimed high. His speed couldn’t match mine though. I dashed and jumped, knocking his sword away with my own. I landed and my blade then ran through him, sideways, between two ribs. He screamed, but responded without pause. His fist pounded into the side of my head, knocking me down. My blade was knocked away, having not caused as much damage as I’d hoped it to. He reached into his pocket again, pulling out what he had failed to moments earlier; it was a scroll.

“Revoca-“ he began to say. I interrupted his speech with a tackle. The two of us fell to the ground and rolled down the hill a few meters. As our movement ceased, I pulled myself up on top of him and quickly pulled out another throwing knife from my ankle strap. I tried to cut his throat then and there, but I wasn’t fast enough. I punched my straight in the jaw, causing me to tumble back off of him. Adrenaline was coursing through me, and it was only seconds until I was up again, charging at the Imperial with another knife drawn. I met him, just as he extended his arms, holding an end of his scroll in each hand.

“Revocamen!” Vailant shouted, reading directly from the scroll. There was a flash of light, and where Vailant had been was then only filled with empty space, which I sailed through and landed flat on the ground. I got up, not realizing what had taken place, but I soon understood. He was gone, probably forever. He had used some kind of intervention scroll to escape to safety.

arose and looked at Snorri’s corpse. He was very much dead. 'Damn it, Vailant.' I thought. 'How much did they pay you for this?' I stepped over to the fallen Nord, and knelt down beside him. There must have been at least fifteen punctures in his body and blood was everywhere. His eyes were emptily staring up into the cloudy sky above. I softly touched my fingertips to his eyelids, closing them. From behind me, I began to hear the murmurs of Xighden and Magnus, recovering from their paralysis.

They both moved, slowly, and came over to Snorri’s body, standing around it. “Damn…” Magnus said. “…damn that bloody Imperial!” Xighden said nothing, but instead simply growled, deep and low.

“Magnus, that spell, did you see what it was? Can we track him somehow?” I asked. He shook his head.

“The word “Revacomen.” That means “recall”. If it was an intervention spell, we could have possibly…but…” He paused, and held his hand tight against his mouth for a moment, in thought. “He could have recalled anywhere in Vvardenfell. We’d never find him.” I sighed and stood up, stepping back from Snorri’s body.

Xighden turned away as his grumbling anger surfaced as a raging roar, completely animalistic in its sound. “I tried…” I began to explain to the two of them.

"We know, we could see. You tried, Prophiter,” Magnus said to me.

“No!” Xighden suddenly shouted, spinning around in place. “He did not try hard enough!” Xighden then heaved his open palmed hand, without any restraint, and smacked me right in the face. Xighden was taller than me, and much stronger, and the force of his blow sent me spiraling back on to the ground. “The elf hesitated!” he shouted again. Magnus stood up in an attempt to intervene.

"Xighden. Your anger is for Vailant, not him.”

“No! He hesitated. Just like in Odibaal,” Xighden angrily berated. As I held the left side of my face, red from Xighden’s swipe, I thought back. I had hesitated to make the final move when fighting the Dunmer woman in Odibaal. Xighden had to finish her off for me.

“I…I may have...hesitated.” I said to them.

“He saw Snorri being stabbed! He was right there, only a few feet away. Then, again, the elf could’ve finished him off. His dagger was held against the Imperial’s throat. But he just froze, and waited, letting him escape! Like in Odibaal!” he continuously barked. 'Did I?' I thought to myself. I did not remember every second of the fight with Vailant, but I began to think harder. As the two continued to argue, my memories reeled and began to connect.

“Xighden…” Magnus began. “…Even if he had killed Vailant, he couldn’t have stopped Snorri’s death. What’s done is done, we need to hurry. There’s no time for this argument.”

“No! This is about more than Snorri! We are about to enter the Demon’s Cradle! We are about to fight a battle that could change the face of all of Tamriel! I don’t want this inexperienced youth slowing me down!” Xighden pointed down at me, as I remained on the ground. “Magnus, you know battle. I know battle. This one knows nothing of true battle. He hesitates, freezes! He doesn’t know how to kill!”

By that point I had been half listening to Xighden and half flashing back to things that I did not want to see. Xighden was wrong; I did know how to kill. In the border wars in Valenwood and Elseweyr I had killed hundreds. Memories uncontrollably filled my mind. I had always told people that my village was segregated from the border wars. That wasn’t true at all. I had been an archer in the militia. They positioned me in the front because I was…

“Head archer,” I whispered without realizing it. I then felt an itch along the side of my cheek. It was the tear that had surfaced after Snorri’s death. All through the battle with Vailant, I had repressed it. But as the memories of my past suddenly came flooding back, I couldn’t help but shed it.

“Shut your mouth, Xighden,” I said to the hulking Cathay-raht, standing up. “I know how to kill. Damn it, I was there with you during the Five Years War. I was there when Falinesti was razed, and when Dune was occupied. I killed hundreds! You don’t know what it’s like when-”

“I know what war is like,” he interrupted. “I’ve killed more than you could know.” Xighden’s tone changed to a very deep, dark one. He was no longer trying to prove his earlier point, but instead to put me in my place. “And I savoured every death.”

“Exactly!” I shouted back in response. “You love to kill. That’s because you’re a damn Khajiit. A bloody animal. Khajiit don’t kill for protection, or war, or food. They kill just to hear the screams of whatever or whoever they’re gutting. They end lives for the sake of ending lives. They love to see the reflections of their own laughing faces on the crying eyes of their prey. You don’t know about the damage it does to you! Your sprit! The part of that can never be washed clean from the blood!” I shouted out relentlessly at him, not holding back the tears that I had repressed ever since I left the wars in my home country. One tear for every life you take, they say.

Xighden growled again, more intensely. “Killing is a simple thing. It is of nature. If Prophiter cannot understand that, then he is weak. But I wonder… how did he…” he began, with curiosity.

“There you go again!” I interrupted. “Khajiit don’t feel the way elves do! They way men do! They don’t have same kind of spirit as we do! Even when they wear clothes like us! Walk like us! Talk like us! It doesn’t matter! You’re just animals!” I no longer yelled with restrained emotion. My face was red and stained form tears. I absolutely screamed at him. “Damn you! Damn every last one of you bloody animals!” I howled.

My words were not well received by Xighden. He utilized his terrific speed by surging forward and pounding another open hand into my face. This time though, his knuckles were curled outward with claws extended. The sheer force was like a steel mace. More than that, four slices tore across my skin. The cuts stretched across my entire face, and soon I was wearing a mask of my own blood.

Magnus didn’t even have a chance to intervene on my behalf. Somehow despite his bludgeoning blow, I only spent half a second on one knee before springing back up at Xighden, lunging for his face. Unbeknownst to him, I had spent that half second grabbing another throwing knife from my ankle. The blade curved through the air and halted only a hair’s breadth away from his eye. His furry hand was what had stopped my slash. It tightly clenched onto my wrist, nearly crushing arm. His other hand then grabbed my throat and he spun, tossing me a solid ten feet through the air.

“Xighden! Stop this, damn it!” Magnus shouted, grabbing the Khajiit’s shoulder. Xighden turned and shoved Magnus away.

“Stay out of this! If the elf knows so much about killing, then it can show me!” Xighden’s rage had resurfaced. He meant for nothing other than to kill me. He underestimated me, though. I meant nothing other than to make that his last mistake.

From my flight through the air, I rolled as I landed; grabbing the bow off my back and clicking open my quiver strap before even standing upright. Every memory I had from the war had come back to me. Every instinct was revitalized. Load, aim, check, release. That was how it was taught by the Bosmer militia. I hadn’t even known that I knew that. It stayed buried in me since the wars, just waiting to come out.

As Xighden turned back from shoving Magnus, the first arrow fired upon him. He quickly raised his thick forearm and swatted it away. Every death I had caused in my past had been suddenly recalled, through tears and in screams. My flashback of long since forgotten memories had somehow brought my old training back with it. The knowledge, the body memory, I was allowed to use it all again. My conscience had finally let me.

“Prophiter, why do you only use one arrow? Pull out three at a time. Believe me, it works.”

“Thanks Owain.”

Owain was my best friend in our troop, until he was ripped apart by the terrifying Senche-rahts. Even then, on that cloudy day in Vvardenfell, I could hear his voice. I heeded his advice, pulling three more arrows out from my quiver before Xighden could break into a run. Load, aim, check, release. This time, I let them fly diagonally, each one about six inches apart. The best way to slow down a cathay-raht. Xighden grabbed the first out of the air, but the second struck him in the chest and the third in the torso. His thick hide was too tough to be seriously injured from only two arrows, though. He pulled them out of his skin as his run picked up pace, bringing him closer to me.

“Pay attention, Prophiter! This will save your life, kid. Fire to one side of them, and then lower your aim and fire to the other side. The furballs never move fast enough to block both. Heh, little brother, you’ll never survive unless you learn.”

was my brother, Ilwain. Each memory that appeared stepped farther back in my timeline. 'I did survive, Ilwain!' Not him though. The war didn’t claim his life, only his legs. He was touched by suicide soon after that. Three more arrows came out from my quiver. Load, aim, check, release. One to his shoulder, another in the thigh. Both sunk in, but did not slow him. With one outstretched hand, he dove for my throat. I rolled under the swipe. My third arrow, to the back of the knee. Load, aim, check…

“They can’t run when they can’t walk. Remember that Prophiter, behind the knee.”

…release. The voice of my commanding officer rang in my head as the arrow sank in, off center. Xighden roared in pain, and swung his left leg back to knock me off my feet. The move was unfortunately successful and I fell to the ground. Before his fists could hammer down on top of me, though, I rolled backwards, flipping up to my feet. His knuckles slammed into the ground, with enough force to have easily broken my ribs.

“Where is the spot to kill, Prophiter? Come now, you know this.”

“To kill? Ha! That’s an easy one. The throat, of course!”

“Right! Good work. Once you’re old enough, you’ll make a fine archer, son.”

“Of course, just like you and Uncle Belwen!”

My father taught me that: how to kill. I was twelve. The memory was disgustingly clear in my mind. Xighden raised his head up from the lowered position. Release. I stood at nearly point blank range and let my bow string send the arrow flying. My target was obvious. 'The throat of course!' And in it went. And out through the other side. Xighden screeched and gurgled, but not before he could plant a hand around my neck. He lifted me up off the ground with one hand. Blood poured down his chest as my throat was nearly crushed. Suddenly, I began to see a light. Not the divine afterlife kind, but red twirling light.

Apparently Magnus had been sending wave after wave of magicka at us, sapping our stamina away. It only then, at the brink of death for both of us, that the spell took effect. What lovely timing.

*

I awoke later on, in tremendous pain. Magnus stood over me, but looked upon Xighden, who lay unconscious a few meters away. My mind was blurry and lacked a complete understanding of what had taken place. When I touched my face, it stung fiercely. As soon as I moved my wrist, though, I realized that it hurt even more. That was until I tried to get up, when my neck screamed with the greatest pain. I quickly lay back down, and moaned in suffering. Magnus turned to me.

“Damn you! Damn the both of you. We don’t have time for this. Snorri is dead, if you remember! Lemnos is waiting! I need to be in there, in Ald Daedroth! I don’t need you two killing each other!” He paced back and forth, seeming quite flustered by the whole event. I offered no apology.

“Is…Xighden still…?” I managed to ask, in a scratchy voice.

“Yes, he’s alive. Lucky for you I’m as skilled in Restoration as I am, otherwise he wouldn’t be, and then I’d take it out on you. Damn you, what was that outbreak?” he demanded of me. I turned my head away from him, saying nothing.

“You’ll give me no explain explanation!?” he shouted. My memory was becoming clearer as he spoke. My eyes started to water, but I said nothing. I couldn’t have; I was choking back my tears. Magnus shrugged me off and walked away, attending to Xighden. As soon as he had stepped out of earshot, I was broken by the weight of what I remembered.

The border wars. Dune. Falinesti. The Five Years War. Every battle, every death, every face had resurfaced. I remembered everything, except it was separated from the anger I had felt before. There was no emotion, just the truth. I broke down. Tears streamed down my face and I literally wept. It was so very long coming, I realized, but to get it all back at the same instant was too much to handle. Time seemed to have no meaning as I simply lay, practically immobile, paying the price for my past in tears. A thought passed through my mind. 'One tear for every life you take, they say.' With that in mind, I knew I would be crying for quite a while. Eventually, though, I drifted back off to sleep.

*

I awoke again, in the evening. My face felt very dry, as if every ounce of moisture had been bled out of me. I arose from my position, slumped against a mossy bed of rocks. I stood, as Prophiter. The real one, I sadly accepted. Who I had been before, for the last fifteen years, was merely a ghost of my childhood self, shrouded in a seemingly impregnable shield of ignorance. And ignorance truly was bliss.

I wasn’t in nearly as much pain as before. It was hard to walk, though. I looked around for anyone. I saw neither Magnus nor Xighden. My vision was blurry and I couldn’t spot either one of them nearby me. For a moment I thought they had gone into Ald Daedroth without me, a notion that I couldn’t tell if I liked or not. 'Damn them both.' I thought. Soon after, however, I was reminded of something. “A battle that could change the face of all of Tamriel.” Xighden had said. I hoped they hadn’t left me behind.

My worries were unnecessary though, as I turned around a large rock face, to see Xighden, standing upright. He glowered down at me. I stared him in the eye, but said nothing. He gave me no argument. I passed him and found Magnus, over near the cliff edge, his robe flowing in the wind. His arms were crossed, and his back was to the two of us, as well as Ald Daedroth.

"You didn’t go in without me,” I said to the Nord.

“No. We had to wait, thanks to you.” I hung my head.

“I’ll give you an explanation now, if you want,” I said to him, bordering on an apologetic tone.

“Me? What about Xighden?” he asked. I turned back to look at the Cathay-raht. Xighden was behind us, out of earshot, even for him.

“If we both survive this ordeal, I promise I’ll give him one,” I responded. I sighed, thinking of everything that had happened since Snorri died. It was unfortunate that his death was overwhelmed by my own personal thoughts. He deserved proper respect, more than Xighden and I had given him.

“Listen Magnus, you’ve known me for…how long now? Not long, I know.”

“Two weeks, exactly,” he responded dryly.

“All right then. What you knew of me; that was…something else. A shield.” Magnus didn’t flinch, but I could tell I had drawn his interest, even if just in the least.

“A shield? What do you mean?” he queried.

“It’s…during the war…I killed people. Hundreds. I don’t know if you’ve been through something like that before, but, it isn’t easy. Maybe with the bow it is, from far away, but up close…it affects you. Hearing the flesh tear, smelling the blood. You can’t let it get to you or…you lose yourself.

I remember when I had had enough. It was near northern Valenwood, closer to Cyrodiil. I’d spent two weeks sneaking through Khajiit territory, hiding and killing. I couldn’t take it. The constant worry, looking over your shoulder, the stench of death and stained red hands. I had to leave it behind, so I ran. I ran across the border into Cyrodiil and I abandoned everyone I knew. I left my troop to fend for themselves.” My breathing became heavy. It was difficult to recall, even then.

“I never cared about life before that. I killed without remorse, because it was what I was taught. But all that death, it tainted me. It left stains on my spirit that will never go away. Somehow, I managed to block it out. I forgot everything I had learned. I think my subconscious knew that I wouldn’t survive with the memories of what I’d done and it just…made them go away. And after that, I was just me again. Me, before I had picked up a bow or a sword, when I was just Prophiter, a local kid. No titles, no orders, no responsibilities. I had gotten my youth back, and my innocence, or at least an illusion of it. It was a lie, but it was a godsend.” Magnus had by then turned to me, with complete interest in my story.

“Xighden, all Khajiit, any of them. They kill so easily. At one point I think I was jealous of them. I hated them for being able to kill so naturally. They seemed like… a superior opponent. As I matured and my guilt grew, I began to wish that I had the apathy for human life that the Khajiit did.”

Magnus paused with some level of respect for what I had to say. “Prophiter, that’s quite a tale. But why is it that you can recall all of this so clearly now?” He asked, with a growing interest. I exhaled, with a newfound depression that sank in deep.

“I…when I paused in that fight with Vailant, I didn’t even realize it. I hadn’t noticed that I froze. That was my shield. My innocence was fighting for its survival; freezing me, holding me back from killing him. Xighden just dragged that fact into the daylight and allowed me to realize it, and to remember everything else from my past. Now it’s gone. My shield of innocence is gone. I can remember every death and feel every ounce of blood staining my soul. I…heh, I don’t have any restraints anymore. I’m ready now. I can help you in there, in Ald Daedroth. No holding back. There’s nothing else for me to lose.” Magnus sighed, and showed what appeared to be sincere compassion for me. That wasn’t what I had intended to get from him, but I didn’t turn it away. He placed his hand on my shoulder.

“Prophiter, you’ve proven quite the character, more than I would’ve ever imagined. We’ll get through this. We’ll defeat Lemnos and end this prophecy.” I smiled. Another sad memory returned to me. One much more recent, though.

“What happened…to Snorri?” I asked. Magnus then sighed again.

“When you were out, we cremated him, like he would’ve wanted. Xighden actually lit the fire. I may’ve been his brother from the north, but Xighden understood him better. Snorri was a warrior through and through.”

I hesitated to say anything else, seriously considering whether I needed to apologize or not. I then realized that before my memories had come back, when I still had my wonderful ignorance, I would’ve apologized immediately. It just didn’t seem necessary anymore. “Hmm…I’m glad that he was given a proper ceremony, at the least. And what of Ald Daedroth? We leave tomorrow?” I asked. Magnus’ expression changed to a serious one.

“No. We leave tonight. I’ve spent the last six hours listening to Lemnos. He’s speaking to me, laughing at us as we fight each other. No more. We will end this tonight,” Magnus said. His words puzzled me. It was the first sign that he’d shown that the trip had been affecting him, in ways different to me or Xighden.

“Tonight? Well, if you think it’s right, I trust your judgment. But, what do you mean he speaks to you? How?” I inquired, overcome with curiosity.

“I can’t explain, but I can hear him. We need to leave sooner rather than later. Prophiter, trust me, I can hear the fear in his voice.” Magnus’ eyes focused in on mine when he said “trust me”.

“I…I do Magnus.” I left the mage to his thoughts, which seemed to be increasingly erratic. The closer we grew to Ald Daedroth the more his ambition grew. It had gotten to the point where he was less of himself and more like Xighden. There was more though. Magnus had a newfound desire. It was something that I couldn’t pinpoint, but was definitely there. It was something that had happened after I first met him. It was unsettling, but I couldn’t argue; I was hardly in the position. We would do what he saw fit and we would fight.

I walked by Xighden again to return to my mossy patch. He leaned against the stony wall with his arms crossed. “The elf has dealt with its problems, has it? No more worrying about getting its hands dirty?” Xighden asked me with a bitter tone. I stopped and turned to him. With my mental block removed, I could finally look at him eye to eye, without fear. Never before had we stood at the same height, even if only for a moment.

“It won’t happen again,” I said, unapologetically. It was a lie, I suspected.

I sat down on the moss and reeled in everything that had just happened to me. Owain, Ilwain, my commander, my father, my mother, my family, my friends, my enemies. Every Khajiit that I had killed roared and screamed at me. All of their deaths were as fresh in my memory as if they had died only hours ago. My soul was drowning in the blood of Khajiit. One thing that Vailant had said rang true: there are always consequences. 'Is there even a point in trying to save myself?' I thought. 'One tear for every life you take? I hope I never need to shed another.'