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Excerpts from a Tamriel Journal

(for further information, please see my accompanying blog post.)

Last Seed 27, 3E433

Sunny, warm

It has been a very unpleasant day. However, given that I did not expect to be alive – let alone free – at its end, I will count my blessings.

Confiscation of my personal belongings by the Imperial Legion has forced me to start a new journal. The odds of recovering my old one – particularly given the circumstances surrounding my capture and subsequent escape (release?) – are low. This is unfortunate, but little can be done.

I do not know who will read this journal – the life of an adventurer tends to be a short one, and for all I know this book will be fuel for a goblin fire or left to disintegrate in the snow. On the off-chance that it will be recovered, however, I offer some explanation as to my person and goals.

My name is Mezzo. I was born in Seyda Neen, a town on the island of Vvardenfell in the province of Morrowind – I was present during the Nerevarine incident, though wholly removed from it. I have spent most of my life as a mercenary with a penchant for underground exploration. Recently, I was bound by law and taken from Morrowind to the Imperial prison in Cyrodiil‘s capital, waiting for my death sentence to be carried out.

I have no desire to disclose here the reasons for my present freedom. I will say only that it carries with it an obligation to the empire that I am presently unable to fulfill. In order to feel as though I can do any duty of magnitude, I feel I must fill other roles, humbler roles. I wish to serve Cyrodiil in common ways – cleaning her sewers of goblins and her roads of highwaymen – and then, perhaps, I will feel ready to perform other duties for her.

Today I was attacked by bandits right outside the Imperial City. Nowhere is safe. I want to help.

I will attempt to document my travels and deeds here. I am optimistic, at least, that I can provide some service to the Nine Divine and their people.

I felt it was appropriate to provide a picture of myself.

The strongest of the marauding bandits. I was not expecting her to be as magically adept as she was; her ability to heal herself was a nuisance. I should research what ingredients can be used to make silencing poisons to properly defend myself against magic-users.

The bandits were kind enough to leave behind a fire – I decided to take advantage of it.

The Imperial City. I hope that when I return here next, the province will be a bit brighter for my actions.

Heartfire 1, 3E433

Foggy, cold

The last few days have been busy. I first traveled west, to Chorrol, and have gradually moved south. Recently I found myself in the town of Leyawiin. The province has offered me a number of trials and troubles, and I’ve been honored to match and best them.

Some small reminders, for posterity:

I found this in a goblin den, and it reminded me of the many drunks I have seen lying in the streets of my home. To turn an object of culture, of refinement, into drunken debauchery is indeed the sort of thing a monster would do. Habitual inebriates are no better.

This Orc had been keeping humans as living prey for rich hunters. I managed to retrieve most of my arrows from his corpse, though a few snapped off in the armor. When I am a bit wealthier, perhaps, I will invest in sturdier ones.

I find it grotesque, his concept of inflicting combat and death on the innocent, as though killing a man dazed and removed from familiar ground would be worthy of any boasting. Equals fighting against equals, perhaps, might be a worthy tournament. But this a game like this? Murder for the idle rich? That such a practice can exist in a civilized province fills me with anger.

I suspect that the Argonian was making a coarse attempt at humor when he described a recently-closed restaurant’s cuisine. Believing otherwise would probably resulted in my vomiting immediately.

Heartfire 2, 3E433

Dusty, cloudy

Days like this remind me of home.

My father used to travel north, to Ald’ruhn and the Ashlands region on Vvardenfell. He brought me with him once, when business was good and we could afford to take a Silt Strider together. I remember the ashen earth and the red skies and the never-ending flurries of dust. It stuck in my eyes and bit at my skin, but I loved the sensation, the pain that was only light, the feel of power and unity with the Divine that comes with being wrapped in a warm wind. Living in Ald’ruhn, with that wind around me always, used to be my greatest wish.

Soon after it started to rain. The moment was lost. I hate rain. It drains away all the color of the world, until all that is left is gray and wet. Uniform, drab, and unpleasant.

Today I went to with an Orc from the city to clear out a bandit den in an Ayleid ruin near Leyawiin. Upon setting foot in the den, my companion was immediately killed, and I barely escaped with my life to the city. Aided by a few Imperial guards, we were able to quickly subdue one of the bandits, who had followed me. I was humiliated, but humiliation is preferable to death. I received no small compensation for my shame, however; the bandit left behind armor rather better than my own:

I suit this attire better than he did, I believe. While normally I don’t care for vanity or fine clothes, I cannot help but appreciate the craftsmanship on the Dwemer-made articles, particularly the shield. I can only imagine the exactness, the precision, which must have gone into crafting such an object. I do not know whether these objects were produced by hand, or by the odd machines that are rumored to haunt old Dwemer ruins. Regardless, I am impressed. The object need only have been a flat slab of steel to have filled its function, and yet it was instead produced with an eye to both functionality and art. I admire this melding of grace and efficiency, and personally wonder at what a full suit of Dwemer armor would look like. I can imagine a warrior outfitted in such marvelous equipment on the field of battle, and the notion of wearing on my body the very culture I fight to protect is inspirational.

On a practical note, it is extraordinarily heavy, and certainly it affects my movement adversely. Hopefully, I will grow accustomed to the excess weight after a few weeks.

Heartfire 5, 3E433

Misty, cool

The air has been refreshing this morning, compared to the recent heat.

I went swimming yesterday, three times. It was unavoidable; finding a dry route would have taken too long the first two times, and the third time, my destination was a chest hidden at the bottom of a river.

I had to swim to the bottom.

I wanted to die. I was certain I was going to die. It was so cold, and the water caved in all around me, pressed on my ears, my lungs. It felt like hands, pulling me down. I do not know how I escaped again to the surface, but I did, crying and choking.

Water will never feel like anything other than death for me.

The prize was not worth the effort. Trinkets, pearls, a few coins. The most worthy possession, a magical weapon, was far too heavy to lift; I will remember its location should I find myself wanting for money in the near future.

Alchemy is frustrating to me. The tools themselves – an alembic, a retort, and a mortar and pestle – are heavy enough by themselves to carry at all times. But ingredients for potions, though lightweight, are starting to weigh me down through the sheer volume I have collected. Because I have so little understanding of alchemy at present, my ability to use each ingredient is limited and I must hold on to every little flower or powder I find in case one of them proves useful later. Carrying so much dead weight around is a nuisance, but the potions I make sell reasonably well, and have meant the difference between life and death on at least one occasion, so I should not complain.

Heartfire 6, 3E433

Sunny, clear

I keep running out of arrows; too many slow me down, so I don’t bring enough. That, and I just spent the better part of a thousand gold repairing my armor. On days like this I wish I were a magic-user.

I was once asked how I could stand to fight for a living. “Doesn’t it bother you killing all those creatures and people? Aren’t you afraid of dying?”

It was an absurd question. As though it had not occurred to me every time I drew my sword that I might die for it. Certainly, it was too late even then for me to have become a trader, or to have learned a craft.

I was commissioned to help clear out a mine filled with goblins. Looking at their bodies afterward, I wondered how easily one of their corpses could have been mine, how many more blows would have been needed to fell me.

I wonder if the goblin that killed me would have seen how delicate the balance between our lives was. Probably not.

I am regularly beaten and bloodied within inches of my life, and rely on magic I don’t fully trust or understand to keep me alive, all for the sake of a few gold. What is wrong with the world that I have to be like this? What would it be without people like me?

One would think, given how short the lives of the violent tend to be, there would be fewer of us.

Heartfire 7, 3E433

Rainy, cold

Twice now I have found myself in a world of someone else’s imagining.

The first time, I had to enter into a sorcerer’s dream to pry him from his self-induced magical sleep. The world was trap-filled, alien, and cold, and it did not help that I arrived like this:

It was altogether an unpleasant experience.

The second time, I was in an imagined forest created by a man with a magical paintbrush, and had to fight off trolls using a sword laced with turpentine.

I don’t understand what any of this means. People trapped in worlds of their own imagining, needing my interference to leave? These worlds are imaginary. But I bled, and when I left I still felt the pain of my wounds. How can I be hurt in a world that is unreal? If magic makes them real, then what boundaries does this world have? What keeps it all from falling apart into chaotic nothing? I am confused, and more than a little frightened. I want a world where the rules are the rules, where cold iron splits skin, where good wine calms the mind, where a woman can collect the gold she earned at the end of the job. I do not want magic to antiquate the real world. I do not want to be subject to someone else’s whims. I do not want to be a part of someone else’s imagination.

I must not dwell on such things. I have work to do, in this world, with a sword swung by my own arm.

Tomorrow, I am going to pursue further work with the Fighter’s Guild. Theirs is simple work. Bloody, but that I don’t mind. Clean up the province, collect my due, as things are supposed to be.

2 Responses
  1. April 25, 2009

    I was surprised by how quickly I forgot there was a “real” person behind this. I think you’ve sustained her voice well (despite what you say in the explanation). You bring out several connections to the real world, questions I think we are all often reluctant to confront. The idea of living in a world of someone else’s imagining is close to the idea of not having free will. I wonder if those who feel discomfort in virtual worlds are reminded of this fact.

    Your project also raises the question of fantasy. Back in the 80s, people were worried that kids playing D&D were going to live out their fantasies in real life and kill people. It occurs to me that this is still true of video games today. Here, you show what the fantasy looks like up close, and I think we recognize that while there may be a connection to real life, it’s not real.

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