Many things have happened. Many incredible, unbelievable, unfathomable things have happened. Really it's hard to absorb everything thus far but…well…Let's start at the beginning shall we?
It was a normal day at work. I got out, walked to my car, and started to drive. It was my Friday so I could go home and relax! I was driving down like normal. Nothing seemed remotely different from anything else I did. As I continued down my lane, bam! Eighteen wheeler hit my van. I felt the most agonizing pain. My body burned. Even worse than childbirth and I went through that twice.
Then I started thinking that this was the end. This is how I was going to die. Hit by a person who didn't think to follow the safety rules of the road; dying in a splatter inside of my van or my body horribly contorting as all my bones and muscles are broken and torn. This was my end. I thought about my kids, they were so young. My daughter wasn't even two yet.
Then I realized that I was still thinking. Was this the afterlife? Was I going to be this soul living in pure darkness with only regrets plaguing my mind until I devolve or get completely destroyed?
I felt a floating sensation of some kind like the warmth of a mother that's carrying you to the bedroom. Then the sensation was gone and I felt something hard underneath me. Breathe entered my lungs and the pain was gone. I gathered up my courage and opened my eyes.
This place was familiar to me and yet at the same time it was the oddest thing I have ever seen. Huge islands were floating in the sky that was painted misty green. Everything seemed to look fuzzy to me as if I couldn't focus on anything. I was lying on the ground, unsure if this was the afterlife or maybe even purgatory.
I sat up. My surroundings were as alien to me as the sky was. I was in a vast valley with mountains towering over the horizon. I grabbed at the earth beneath my hands and crumbled it. This felt like dirt, the soft malleable damp earth I was used to but something was wrong. None of this seemed right to me. I tried to get up but things started to spin and my eyes burned as I saw a blinding white light in front of me. Terror gripped my chest briefly before a feeling of love silenced the fear. The light dimmed and soon appeared as a halo.
I only had a second to be awed before I felt the earth beneath my feet give way again. I gasped in fright and reached for that beautiful light with all the strength I could muster, but it was for naught. I was falling from that strange place. I heard wind passing through and my back hit roughly against water. I gasped as I broke the surface and quickly calmed myself as to stay afloat but that panic was right behind my eyes.
I heard groaning sounds then I saw something a mile away. There was a ship, caught on fire with people screaming to get out. I couldn't believe what I was seeing but that flight or fight instinct kicked in and adrenaline started to pump in my veins. I couldn't stay there and the water was beginning to hurt my body with how cold it was. The questions would come later. I saw lights near me that wasn't the ship's flames and swam as hard as I could towards them.
There were others that were swimming with me, holding onto the wreckage or some product that was floating to help them along. I finally got close enough to where I saw piers and people helping survivors. The water smelled like sewage and felt greasy. I wanted to vomit but I swallowed it down. I had to concentrate on getting out.
"Here, grab onto this!" I heard a man shout as he tossed out a rope. I swam toward it and grabbed it. "Heave boys!" I felt my body being dragged across the water and up the pier. Two men grabbed at my shirt that was torn into shreds and pulled me onto the pier. I gasped as the sudden rush started to leave and my body creaking and shivering.
"Get them to the apocotharies or healers!" Another man shouted, donned in full chainmail. There was chaos all down the docks as people rushed to save those who needed help. I leaned over the pier and vomited into the water. My mind absorbed everything it was seeing. I tried to think that this was one of my wild dreams that I could never make sense of. The thing that clued me in that this was all real was my shivering body and a man that was leading me away from the wreckage. It was another one of those men with the chainmail.
He was huge but his face looked familiar. I tried to focus on his face with the low lights of the torches, and yes they used torches! Unfortunately, he passed me off to another woman that was nearby that took out a blanket and wrapped me in it.
"Here, try to dry yourself off with this. Nina, we need a fresh pair over here!" She shouted in a British accent. I looked all around and saw more survivors being shoved with dry cloths and blankets to ease off the cold, the fire of the ship slowly going down as it faced the cold sea floor. Another young woman that had pointy ears gave me some clothes.
"Change into these, we have partitions right behind you lest you get any stares from those sailor pigs." She scoffed and went on her way. I checked the clothes. They were rough with odd colors. I looked around. Everyone had these types or some armor on. It was a lot to take in at once. I went behind the partition. There were a few woman, some kids changing into dry clothes, all shivering. I took a small corner and looked at my torn clothes.
I still wore my chef's pants and my shirt was barely hanging onto me. Then I realized that I was still bleeding. I had numerous cuts all over my body. I made sure no one was looking right at me. They weren't. Most likely they were still worrying about the accident. I quickly took off my shirt and put what appeared to be a tunic on. I took off my pants but kept my underwear on. I had a gash on the side of my left thigh that seemed to stretch towards my hip.
I took what was left of my own clothes and ripped them to try to use them as make shift bandages. They stayed on while I put on the leggings. I stayed with my waterlogged tennis shoes and socks. I had very few things in my pockets. My wallet, a few piping tips, my notebook, pen, marker, and my phone that I had put in a plastic bag earlier because it got washed with sticky meringue earlier in my job. Thank God for Ziploc bags.
I made sure to put them in the pockets of my leggings and wrapped the blanket over me again. I felt a huge surge of fatigue as I got out from the partition where another pair of hands dragged me over to a man with a desk. He had bags under his eyes and a checklist in front of him.
"Give him your name and where you're from." The guard left me in the line toward the desk. I couldn't pay attention. I felt woozy, light headed, and I wanted to faint right then and there. Then I started to hear what these people were talking. Denerim. Amaranthine. Kirkwall. Antiva City. Starkhaven. Orlais. My eyes widened.
I couldn't trust what they were talking about where these people were from but then I looked around and started to make the connections. Rough linen clothing that resembled something from the Middle Ages, wooden ships, chainmail, torches, and not a single electric bulb anywhere. Even then I couldn't fathom or even begin to accept where I was until I reached the deck.
"Name?" He asked. I gaped, my mouth fluttering as I couldn't find my voice. "Take your time." He said patiently.
Should I give out my true name? It was exotic and I doubt people could even pronounce it so I chose something else.
"N…Nia." I said quietly. He wrote it down.
"Where are you from Ms. Nia?" He asked.
"Ah…where? Where…?" I looked down, wondering how I should answer.
"The ship was due to dock in Antiva City for wares from Denerim. I know it was a horrible accident but we need a list of those that boarded as we lost the original list before. We'll try to sort everything out later." He explained. I chose the safest bet considering the way I looked.
"Antiva City." I said quietly. He filled out some forms, put a stamp on something, and let me go. At this point my light headedness was becoming detrimental to my health. There was too much to absorb, too much information all at once, and I was sure that I lost too much blood.
My feet kept on moving from the docks to the inner city. This was Denerim. These crud encrusted streets, the stone pavements, the darkness from no lights, and the massive amount of stars in the sky was Denerim. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. I wanted to think that this was one of my wild dreams, something that couldn't happen. I was going to wake up now. I was going to wake up in a hospital with machines all around me surrounded by the people I loved. Yes, that was what was going to happen.
Instead, I tripped on a lose rock and hit my head.
I don't know how long it was before I realized that I was on something hard with those rough blankets over me again. I heard faint whispers and my head was burning. My throat was dry and my lips were cracked. I opened my eyes just a smidge. I knew a ceiling when I saw one. There was a dance of fire and I felt its warmth. I think I saw a ray of sunshine as well. I heard some clinking next to me and turned my head. My eyes couldn't focus but at least my ears could work.
"Maker, this one sure is a fighter." I heard a tired voice say. I think he rubbed his face and sighed.
"So she's still alive?" I heard someone else ask.
"Barely. That wound on her leg is infected. You're lucky you found her when we did otherwise she wouldn't have lasted another day. You do have the payment for this I hope?" The older one said, raising my head up with a clay cup that had water in it. I drank greedily. I coughed slightly as I felt a cool and earthy smelling balm being put on my leg.
"I…well…" I heard feet shuffling. The other one sighed again.
"The last one died so I didn't charge you for it. Let's see if she can afford to live."
I blacked out again. My dreams, nightmares, and waking life seem to blend into a menagerie of frightening images and a misty green sky that I couldn't understand. When I woke up again I seemed to be in better health. My clothes were changed again and a surge of panic went through me before I realized that the other leggings were at the foot of my bed. I quickly gathered my things again.
I looked around and observed my surroundings. I was in a small room with various tables and alchemical instruments. The fire still raged and there was a small window where I saw that it was turning dusk. I took off the covers and my shoes were gone. I sighed before I tried to put my feet on the floor. I still wasn't one hundred percent yet. The door opened and in walked a middle aged man with a stern gaze and a small beard.
"You are awake." He said gruffly before going over to the table with various herbs I think.
"I…uh…um." I gulped.
"An acquaintance of mine brought you here. The shipwreck was a bad one. I'm surprised you still live. That infection ravaging through your body was a tough one. Here, drink this." He gave me a clay bowl that smelled of grass and honey. I made a face. "I saved your life. You might as well follow my orders."
I couldn't fight with that logic. I took a breath and took a big gulp of the mixture. Wait, should I really be accepting weird smelly things from strangers and drinking it? Too late. It was beyond disgusting. I coughed and gagged.
"Drink all of it. The Elfroot is fresh. Dried always tastes better." He explained. I grimaced again but did as he asked.
"Blegh." I stuck my tongue out and passed him the bowl. He gave me something to drink that tasted remotely like cider. It was enough to at least take that dreaded taste from my mouth away.
"And your name?" He asked, crossing his arms. I fidgeted with my hands.
"It's Nia." I said. That slight wooziness I had early seemed to ebb off and I felt like myself again.
"A survivor of the wreckage. You must have been near the explosion to have gotten so many injuries. Rest assured, you are perfectly healthy now." He said, gathering his ingredients.
"Um…I don't…understand? How did I-"
"I brought some coin but I'm not sure if this will…" A short odd looking man came into the room. He had dark red hair and a dark tan. When he saw me, he gave a huge smile. "You're alive! I can't believe it!" He ran over to me while I cowered on the cot.
"Don't spook the girl!" The older one said. The younger one backed off and gave me a sheepish smile. He had those pointed ears as well.
"Sorry, sorry! I just, wow! Looks like the Maker heard my prayers after all. Oh sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. You looked like you were near death! You're ok I take it?" He asked with a grin. I nodded.
"Now, about the payment." The gruff mas asked.
"Here. It was all I was able to scrounge up." The red haired guy gave the pouch to the other one and he slowly counted.
"Hmph, you're two sovereigns short." The gruff man asked.
"Two!? I thought we agreed-"
"That was if she died. She's in fine health now she can afford to pay." The gruff man looked toward me.
"She was caught in the blaze. Do you really think she has anything to her name?" I was starting to really like this red haired elf.
"Not my problem. You were the one trying to break down my door to save someone you should have left to die in the streets. Two sovereigns are needed to pay me back and I will be holding it to both of you." The gruff man left the room with the pouch and the red haired elf scoffed and shook his head.
"Forgive him. He usually doesn't do this anymore and his bed side manner is terrible. Oh! I haven't introduced myself have I? My name is Rael Tabris. That old grump you just saw is Thomas." Rael said. My mouth nearly dropped on the floor. The guy who saved me was one of the many origins you could have chosen.
"I'm Nia." I said quickly.
"Pleased to meet you. Not that pleasing anyway. I'm sorry that I caused your debt just as you lost everything but don't worry. Now that you're healed up, I'm sure we can find you a job easy. Well, easier since you're a human. Not that there's anything wrong with humans! Oh sorry, I'm rambling." He rubbed his head sheepishly. He reminded me of Merrill without the blood magic background. "I'm sure you were only here in Denerim for business and that you would like to go home soon. If you could really find a job and help me pay back Thomas, I would really appreciate it." He nodded.
"Um…I…" I looked at the ground.
"Oh that was rude wasn't it? It's not that I can't pay back what Thomas said it's just common sense right? Thomas said you're free to go but I might be able to convince him to let you stay, until you get back up on your feet of course." Rael explained quickly. I was growing panicky and I think he saw it. "Well, you better get some rest. I'll come by tomorrow in the morning!" He went out as well.
I sat back on the cot, trying to absorb everything that has happened. I remembered my accident, the water, the ship. Then I guess I was saved by Rael that found me after I passed out and now I'm saddled with debt the minute I was woke up by a grumpy healer.
It took all I had not to hit my head against the wall repeatedly to try to convince myself that this wasn't real.
Yet here I am writing with my pen as my marker died in the water in my dried out notebook that's all crinkled.
It's going to take all of me not to go insane.
Beta'd by the lovely FearaNightmare, Inspired by Wyolake and Middle of Nowhere, read Dragonborne another good SI!
Ok sorry for the mix up people! But I'm keeping the original where it is and uploading this as the new story so the ones that were reading my old story can still read about it. Either way, things are going to be changing and stuff around here definitely!