A/N: Before we move on to the next chapter… I believe an explanation is in order.
As hinted, this is going to be another multi-chapter from me. Well, in terms of TES series, this will be my first take on Skyrim. Follows the Dark Brotherhood quest line and will be in first person POV starting this chapter onwards.
P.S Chances are I won't be able to update (gradually working on the second as we speak).
P.S.S This will be in novel length.
I do not own Skyrim or any NPCs, Quests or game dialog. The rest of the characters are mine. Enjoy!
Act One: Unbound
By Sithis we pray.
In the name of the Night Mother and the Dread Father we offer.
Let this volume serve as a personal record of one man, ignorant he was of his true calling and his becoming for the Dark Brotherhood.
To put down this feathered pen and burn this incriminating would-be word written at the turn of every page to ashes is… tempting. Considering the circumstances that I have put myself into, however inevitable, I fail to see the purpose of accounting these particulars openly.
On pen and paper above all.
This would have been a pleasant distraction to engage on, absorbing even, without fearing dear life for every two seconds. Oh but fear is nothing to be fret upon if not a token of constant reminder. Fear has kept me alive for countless of times. And I owe to it all.
So much has happened that I could not ever comprehend. Still I am finding answers, for the sake of disclosure. Perhaps it is best to start from where it began.
Lazarus. It is the name I have been bestowed upon, a name told to have held great power. A miracle some would say. But I beg to differ. It is certainly not some "miracle" perceived. Rather, it, the name itself, is in fact, an anomaly. One that perhaps summarizes my whole being as – from a matter too complicated to a conclusion much simpler – a singularity. A false and an incomplete singularity. That too, perhaps, explains the hollowness felt by my soul.
Born and of High Rock breed. I have been a Breton for as long as I could remember.
I hail from Wayrest, a major city in the Iliac Bay region of High Rock. It was a prosperous fishing village at that time, and if one could boast, in all of Tamriel with clear waters and lush full greens, complimented with an array of coloured flowers festooned throughout the land. In which its beauty is yet to fade along my travels.
I lived what could be considered a commoner's life before embarking on a vagrant's path.
We had a quaint little house near the river side not far away from the city. Our home had never been short of anything scarce. The income of wealth hidden under the guise of humility. Our land was fertile indeed; plenty of resources around with well bountiful harvest in springtime and autumn. There was also a cave nearby before the flowing river, un-trod.
Mystery shrouded this cave for reasons unknown. For strangers seen to the naked eye had come and go, arrived and vanished, into the cave. They wore clothing much like the villagers, these strangers, while others donned some foreign clothes uncommon – travellers in most likelihood.
Father were never too fond of company; hence our remotely secluded living arrangements. We accepted visitors, by mother's good will of course. But they were unwelcomed guests, neither were familiar faces.
Trespassers on our land.
Outsiders far off the city.
Alas, as a child lacking other human contact, something that a couple could never hope to extend, I desire attention. A thinking outside the box; the knowledge beyond forests and walls and seas. What started as simple curiosity had piqued into further observations.
They become bolder that late summertime. Themes of black and red overrule the unmarked green surroundings. A bright contrast that pales those within its circle. And yet their presence in that instant eluded into the hollow of the hill. The entrance never to be found nor shared but amongst their own.
By the time curiosity had the better of me I had had to tell a living soul!
Mother found it amusing. To the point where she humoured my revealing was by far imaginary. Insisted that it wasn't – that it wasn't an ordinary cave, that it had an uncanny skull carving with a dark handprint, bloodied, upon a black door-wall hidden within the shadows under the shade; that those furtive people were anything but made-up, that they actually knew their way around, passed the bushes of dying greens and sorrowful flowers and patches of weeds, and back.
Perhaps I should not have brought it up.
I remembered the glint that had lit up in my mother's green eyes. The way she looked at me back then… I worry her wrath at the time, knowing that I had discovered something that I feel I shouldn't. Or that I had fabricated lies upon absurd lies in front of her, like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Or, simply because of my little escapades of testing Lady Luck and adults' patience albeit adequate warnings.
Mother forbade any pursuit of entertainment near the cave in the hill then.
And that was the end of it. Until I saw mother went out of her way later that very day, that is.
Living under the same roof for the entirety of my life, I fail to realize the secrecy this family was keeping. An estranged mother, a father too hardworking to ever be the man of the house – I tried to convince myself otherwise. An excuse. Denying there exists a jarring cleave in our relationship as a family.
Alike most good things sharing similar fates, all must come to an end. It burst with fireworks and fiery red.
The year was 4E 188, the faithful 5th day of Last Seed it was.
I was just a shy away from turning twelve, tender and raw and young – much, much too young – when dark clouds overhead Wayrest that following year. It was a vision unforeseen, they say. Flagged ships, white, mistakenly assumed were the commonly traders and the likes, came a many. On board were not of crew nor were men making a living in the high seas. On board were wicked men; bandits, pirates. Corsairs.
With its people the city of Wayrest was invaded. Attacked, raided and razed. They were merciless and unbiased in their wake. Clearly these people came with the full intention of leaving the city upturned in shambles.
It was more than that it seems.
We were not part of the community per se, confident that their amok should have shied away been by our seclusion and spare us barred, but they found us. They found it. They found them. While I could do none but cower, my days of dependence had come to an end.
Time continued to tick and flow regardless the proceedings. None the help were offered nor were there attempts to retake the city from our political allies. Not even from our neighbouring kingdom, the Orcish Kingdom of Orsinium. How the alliance was but a farce for our impending ruin. After all, it was in their best interest to wring out the competition.
Besieged and captured Wayrest fell within thirty-two days.
It was like a storm – short and fleeting, vicious and cruel. Devastating – by the time those marauders left their branding mark. I was orphaned along with those that lost theirs. Wayrest and the remainder of its people try to re-built itself but to no avail. Never could they hope to recover from the lost. Things fell apart quite quickly.
Soon after, word came out. Rumours spread like hellfire.
In the hill by the river further into the forest, it goes such, there stands a cave. Upon its entrance was a black door. It was as much as jarring to ward man and animal from drawing near.
Imprinted were uncanny engravings; drawings that tale a story of death. The harbinger and herald. If one were to stop and listened, they would hear a deep voice unnerving enough to creep and raise hairs stiff. It was believed to be the base for a faction of an eluding, underground association – The Dark Brotherhood they were called.
Word is that the Brotherhood is a renowned and infamous group of assassins shrouded in shadow and mystery. Under the guise as both a business and a cult, the Brotherhood was feared across all of Tamriel. Many knew its existence; those who did choose to tolerate it in fear of meeting their own demise.
Before this supposition was proven true however, the cave – under the weak foundation of rocks – ruptured to ruins. No survivals were left in the midst of its collapse.
For whatever reason corsairs came, the people of Wayrest, commoners and noblemen alike, who feared and loathed them, blamed the dark association. For whatever reason they came, it was indeed their handiwork that finished the sanctuary. They were sure to make it clear.
The Wayrest Sanctuary was no more.
Upon realizing Wayrest will never be the same again father fled the city, bringing his only son, I, along with him. No one knows what fate befalls my mother. They may view father and child as cowards, individuals that reject union during the people's time of need and abandoned their wife and mother. Their kinsmen. But it was of most importance that it be done. For none should know the last breath she took happened to be within the walls of that very sanctuary.
No words were exchanged between us. Deep inside I had known for a time, just that it was never voiced. A mutual understanding. It felt taboo to even mention it.
I should know better, but I cannot reconcile the remaining resentment I harbour. Anger at mother for the pretence we were living entirely, disappointed more in father for allowing it to continue. Up to a certain point, until the make-believe exhaust its purpose. Despite his efforts in peace offerings I refuse to speak to the man in my tantrum.
Personal possessions were abandoned. The house as it was. A single steed which father had kept, saddled and equipped with rations of food to last the journey, was of worth the salvage.
We were going to The Reach, father had said en route; the relatively peaceful kingdom the Reachmen had established during the Great War. It was east of High Rock, southwest of the continent called Skyrim.
A creak first, muffled movement equated to the shuffling of feet in the next, and then -silence. Utter silence.
I would have easily shrugged it off as vermin, crawling in search for cracks and hiding spots to mark their territory in otherwise claimed land. Was in-tuned with their presence in our home. Only, I am no longer in the former household I inhabited and my current living arrangement is not infested with them. Despite the filthy condition.
'Warms my heart to see a fellow brother partaking on a pastime.'
Turning on a new page, I spare a glance to greet my company. Dearest Gabriella. A pleasant surprise.
Not often do I encounter a particular dark elf exactly like her. Doubt I would. Pleasing to the eyes I must say this one. A dainty smile, and yet coy threatening to come out of hiding, graced her Dunmeric features. Pretty faces like her do tend to spell mischief. This lovely creature is clearly above that if not more than deadly.
'I would appreciate it if you had had knocked.'
She leaned on. I resumed my writing.
'I would suggest knitting,' the Dunmer droned, 'but that requires patience. Something you still lack thereof.'
I scoffed at the last remark, not at all bothered with the indignity of it all. That droll in her tone - subtle, very subtle. The smirk, while alluring, validates it.
After a beat, she finally said; 'Astrid is demanding for your... attention.'
Ah yes, our patron. Our revered den mother.
Her account in her rise to rank was commendable. As Leader, I understand her need to assert authority. I respected my leader for who she was, what she had done for all of us; for keeping the Brotherhood alive. Though I am but a fledging in this Family, I am not rather fond of her leadership.
I see no reason to abandon the old ways. There is a reason the Five Tenets existed. These were the rules and morals the Assassins of the Old followed. Though she was no longer part of the Brotherhood, mother, may the Night Mother watch her soul in the Void, lived her life holding faithfully to them. Astrid fundamentally destroyed any traditions and cultures we had.
'This is not the time to keep her waiting.'
I hummed. Our Speaker was never the patient one.
'I am sure,' I said before meeting a pause, dipping the quill pen in ink as I did so, 'we could come to an agreement.'
Thinking back to that moment in time, mother had a bout of worry on her face. Apprehensive, hesitant, and slightly pensive. I believe it was the look of regret. Perhaps in her failure to keep her child away from her mad, mad world. Father did say, for good reason, that she wanted me to have a normal childhood.
To break the cycle.
They were not exactly the best of parents; and so did theirs, I believe. But they make do. Change makes a difference as the saying goes.
In another life, I would have lived out her expectations. In another life, if I were to divert, I would have followed father's route. But either way, in hindsight, I cannot easily escape the path laid upon me. To hope to imagine the what-ifs differently instead is a wishful promise. I intend to therefore take on what I can in this lifetime.
The sound of her voice, so near, pulled my reverie. Lovely Gabriella does sound delightful in her faux-consideration.
'Though you and I both know that she heard you're back. We are your Family now, after all.'
Nothing was said for a moment. I chose not to. Her steely gaze enough speaks greater volumes. Eventually the dunmer straightened her pose away from the archway.
If this sanctuary were to be called home, the least they could do is set up a decent door. My room namely, as much as I could manage to make it mine. Even a normal, functional and sane, family requires privacy.
Nothing short of refined elegance, Gabriella turned to make her leave. 'Welcome home, Brother,' she muttered, loud enough for me to hear. And the door separating the outside world and the inside, albeit two rooms, closed behind her.