Diamonds in the Rough
“Do not believe madness to be a curse, mortal. For some, it is the greatest of blessings. A bitter mercy perhaps, but a mercy nonetheless.”
The Coyote of Lilmoth walked inside his tattered old robes of brown-beige, and camouflaged among an odd infinity of dunes, he glared with beastly eyes. Tail pensively waving. Both pupils distantly leaning, perhaps in search of reality; in disposed outlook at least as world-weary as Ongar’s, if not as fraught with contempt. Hope adamantine flared, reflected from within them. Perhaps the only diamond he knew, his beating heart.
From his days in the Black Marsh, to his nights in the Monastery, not once was he coiled, or determined, to be everlasting, unique, nor mythically memorable. Looking where it landed him, he knew then and there that Trickster never saw fit to be such. The Old Flu might have caught him if he did otherwise.
The trickster walked within the dunes, a baby blue sky above him. Glittery streaks of planes of Oblivion shone through the daylight, matching the color of the tangy, intense sun. Like a dreamscape, nothing is in sight except the figure walking towards a destination. Then, the character’s back is revealed, as is a cave.
And so Do M’raj Dar’khajay made a noise, “Hmgrh.”
A shimmering light reflecting from somewhere in the cave. Diamonds. His khajiiti figure paced towards the cave. He had been searching for it for months, but something had just incited it right then and there. Obviously a trap. But the bait was far more than bait, and it was well worth whatever trap this may be.
The cave had been surprisingly cool to him. Perhaps it was time that separated him from the brisk, sustaining feeling of walking through a lacuna. The appeasing sentiment of asylum was fabricated, constructed by a god of no predictions, a god of rotten minds. In comprehending this, he felt lost in an ambivalence of discretion and serenity.
The days before he had wandered into the deserts. Had they been many or few, he had not known. He only knows “now.” Now, he was lost in a pointless place without reason. Now was never, and never any reason. Yet the destination felt very close. Similar to that in seeing an oasis in the distance, he had seen this cave. The shimmering of the reflected light beaming from the diamonds reminded him that of the gleaming of the light from the source of water. The source of life, hope, and happiness. A thought evokes into his mind, from when this had all started.
“Why, diamonds, of course! Beautiful things. Things of beauty! Yes, diamonds, because they are really a sight to the eyes, don’t’cha think? Then again, all things are sight to the eyes. Except the unseen. Remember that there are things unseen, mind you.”
“I don’t understand! Why am I trapped here, why am I doing this?”
The manshape had seemed to become pestered with the remarks, but his face faded back into its general form of inane satisfaction, “There is no point in asking pointless questions which pertain to things which have no point. Unless, of course, it is a sword fight! I just love those! All those points!”
“You make no sense!”
“Well, then it is quite sensical that I make no sense. Isn’t it, being who I am? Therefore, I shall indeed be as nonsensical as I am supposed to be—by making sense! Find the diamonds, they will be in caves. Learn the name of the place you are in, and learn the way of the Desert Walker. Only then may you see Tamriel again…and pass down your new talents!”
So, into the cave he walked, and upon the sight of the beautiful, shimmering jewels, the khajiit sighed in relief. Soon after, he quickly turned his head to the direction of the small rocks clattering to the floor. A band of red orcs had been lounging in the crevice hidden in the time.
“We reckon this must be one of the last gems, right? To escape?”
The khajiit stared at them with eyes of silent fire, “That would be…correct.”
“Well, this is an unlucky day for you. Lord Sh’ sent our asses down here to guard them. I figured he’d want to challenge you, but I didn’t think he’d want you dead. At least until he put us in his service.”
“You believe to be great fighters?” The fire hadn’t calmed; his voice had became more incisive.
“We are the greatest fighters in the world.”
Their arrogance had proven a slip of hubris. So the Desert Walker had begun playing the sides, “Oh, goodness me,” The fire had seemed to die, replaced with a projected sense of fearfulness, “I could not fight if my life depended on it!”
The orcs had shook their heads to one another and laughed. They believe to be the best in the realm, and they look towards one another for approval. As they had laughed, he noticed their garbs and weapons. Each had a war-axe mounted on his back, some had daggers bound to the waist, others had satchels of assorted items connected to their belts. Their burly red masses had struck through pieces of assorted leather armor parts. The leather was sturdy and tough, and all of it bore shades of burnished colors which had complimented their skin tone.
“I am Bogakh gro-Shazog,” the leader had some bent black stripe tattoo run down from the side of his left eye to his cheek, giving the catlike mirage an idea, “and I will eat you for dinner.”
As Bogakh boasted, the Khajiiti mirage ran straight towards him, leaping to a kick inside his abdomen, to propel himself into the air. On the downwind, he violently swiped his arm and lacerated the face of the Orc. His claws still penetrated Bogakh’s face as he landed, so he simultaneously turned and pulled the leader down with his head. As this happened, he flexed his arm; pulled his claws out, swiping his hand so that his palm faced the barbarian; and thrust Bogakh by his sliced head across a few paces. All in one fluid motion.
Gro-Shazog stumbled back in the propulsion, collapsed into a cave pit, and plunged to his death. The other orcs dismounted their weapons and charged towards the khajiit. Charging, charging, charging. When will I meet one that does not charge? One came from the left of the khajiit as a female had arrived at somewhere along his frontal right. He turned to the male who had placed the axe in a position for a long, hard swing. Wait. Wait. Wait.
He had stayed in the same position, arms folded and feet together in an erect stance, until the moment had come. Right when the axe was launched, he tossed his thigh to the orc’s direction and swung his lower leg to aim right at the orc into a kick. He pushed his leg out as the orc came charging right into him, not noticing the leg until the last second. The wind had been knocked out the charger, and he dropped his weapon and crumpled his stance in response. With the orc facing the ground, Desert Walker had shifted his upper body to the left to successfully avoid the impending axe from behind. Following the flow and momentum of the shift, the khajiit drew his outward leg (the one that’d kicked the orc) to a crescent swipe and face the other opponent as her axe had been extended.
She was bewildered. The khajiit moved with astonishing speed and perception. He had evaded to her left and faced her, then proceeded to pounce her as she brought back her weapon to her stance.He performed a viciously low pounce into her, legs bent and back nearly upright. As he had drove towards her, he executed a piercing strike into her solar plexus as well.
Only this time, with his foreclaws rather than his foot. Her diaphragm had been punctured and her breathing disrupted, sending her into a state of respiratory shock while a stream of blood cascaded down her torso.
After extracting his fingers from her person, he had immediately stroke towards the male orc behind him who was close to catching his breath. Three red lines had formed on his head, diagonally from his left ear across his left scalp. He had clutched the cuts in pain as his other hand clutched his diaphragm for breath. The other orcs were still charging towards him regardless, but they would not survive. With each he killed, the diamond came closer. And soon, he would reach Fisherman’s Rock.
A Boy & His Letters
Daenlin was sitting at the desk in his room, looking out the window. His home in Cheydinhal was quite pleasant, and he was always very content with his life. He never stole out of greed, it was the adrenaline rush he stole for. Should his father find out, he would be whipped ’till his ass sore, but he knew it was worth the risk. Everything was worth the risk, the risk alone was worth the consequence. The combination of finesse and, well, pure chance, just excited him.
He had never speculated a such a bittersweet consequence before.
The letter sat on his desk as he had looked outside the window. Earlier in the day, it had been delivered to him in the Newlands Lodge by Veratha Romalen, the bartender (like her grandmother before her). While Daenlin’s father didn’t mind his presence there, his mother would scold him on occasion if she saw him around the premises.
To say that there was nothing between Daenlin and Veratha was to be in denial. Although Veratha was a dark elf and Daenlin a wood elf, they had become acquainted quite swimmingly. While Daenlin appreciated the liberties the bar provided (ale, food, laughs, fights, and the occasional drunken pocket), he usually went there to flirt around with Veratha.
Daenlin never connected himself to the Bosmeri stereotypes. He was rather tall for one; he had the physical structure of a Dunmer, Imperial, and Bosmer; he moved like a Dunmer; he spent most his time with Dunmer, and was considered a Dunmer among them; and he was quite frisky with the women (namely, Dunmer, and especially Veratha).
However, there remained a few Bosmeri traits with which Daenlin shared. He was proficient in archery; he was quite convincing to animals (and humans, for that matter); he had the agility, wit, and curiosity of a Bosmer; and he held fast to (most) morals.
So it was Veratha who had passed him the note. Everything about it told him it was the Guild. He had never understood how he had attained the attention of it, especially since he had never been caught. It was his dream to join it, but he would have to leave home and forfeit his future in his lovely hometown. He would miss his mother, father, the bar boys, and Veratha.
But he would have to accept the invitation now. The Guild does not respect freelance thieves, and they’ll never send him another invite if he doesn’t accept this one. But it was too early! He was still considered fresh in practice, if daring, and he would have probably been the youngest member to gain acceptance into the guild. Perhaps they had wanted to use him as some sort of bait or precaution. Perhaps it was a practical joke, courtesy of Veratha. All these the possibilities, from just one letter…”I suppose I’ll never know if I don’t read it.”
He guided his head from the window looking into the West Cheydinhal common area to the note on his desk:
“I can offer you great rewards. If you are interested, come to the Garden of Dareloth in the Imperial City’s Waterfront district at midnight. Present this note and all shall be made clear.
The Gray Fox”
His heart had skipped a beat. This was not in Veratha’s hand, and it was not written hastily, even though the syntax implies as though it were urgent. This nature within the essence of the letter, the reading between the lines, had been what left Daenlin both terrified and exalted.
But how would he get to the Waterfront? It was miles away. His father had never left Cheydinhal, and he was too young to travel alone. This problem had enveloped him all day until he decided to go outside for a stroll to clear his mind.
Walking over to the reformed Mages Guildhall, a Dunmer mage of the local faction started waving his fist at the boy: “Oooh, I knew it was you! You rotten Bosmer thief! Don’t think of coming back for more! You have no idea how dangerous those stones may be! By Azura, Rembrandt have my sorry arse! All because of you, you footpad!”
Oddly enough, Daenlin hadn’t stolen from the guilds recently, so he had no idea what the irate mage was talking about. He simply put his arms up and gave an innocent shrug.
The understanding mage nodded his head and turned back to the hall to go looking for his things. Daenlin, even while being a thief, was universally known around Cheydinhal to be among the most honest of boys. If he had stolen whatever the mage was ranting about, he would have smirked and bolted off right there, or delivered the goods to the mage if he was doing well that week.
Daenlin wondered who else could have stolen the objects, so he went back to the Newlands Lodge to investigate among his adolescent peers.
He opened and shut the door, greeted by the voice of several Dunmer men raising their ales and Dunmer boys raising their ciders, “Daenlin!”
He quickly and thankfully smiled, nodded, and waved to all that greeted him in the bar, then strode over to his friends’ table near the section of the bar, in which Veratha was currently working.
“Have you heard of Quedicus? They say he never came out the well behind the Mages Guildhall!”
“No, no, that’s a lie. I saw him just yesterday. He was rather wet, though.”
“Oh, good for him! Odd name for an Argonian, though.”
Daenlin had appeared and raised the letter in his hand, not showing the seal. Veratha’s eyes instantly widened and she repeatedly began shaking her head and mouthing “no!”
Drulvan became curious and asked, “What might that be, Dae?”
Daenlin quickly removed it from sight and coughed, “Nothing.”
Drulvan noticed Veratha’s gesticulations and a sly look appeared on his face, “Oh, I think I know what that is…”
He began looking back and forth at his two peers, and Veratha picked up on his insinuation.
She began sheepishly, “Well, um, yes. It is something like that.”
She quickly snatched the note and mouthed a curse at Daenlin, who looked somewhat bewildered.
As Drulvan began making impertinent jokes about the two, Daenlin and Veratha rolled their eyes and the others had laughed.
After listening closely to all his peers, Daenlin came to the conclusion that none of them had stolen the mage’s things. After everyone had left, he stayed with Veratha at the bar, tossing a coin-purse in his hand. It had been stolen from Drulvan when he wasn’t paying attention. Of course, Daelin had intended to return it to his peer the following afternoon. Of course, as you could guess, Drulvan would never see his money again.