Fortes Fortuna Juvat

September 21st, 2019; New York

Marcus Tullius Cicero, former Consul and Senator of Rome was without a doubt one of the finest orators to have ever lived. The man's speeches were over two thousand years old and more often than not didn't translate well into English and yet they were still held up as shining models of how to write persuasive speeches.

In copious surviving examples of his correspondence Cicero himself laid out three criteria one needed to keep in mind if one wanted to be a successful Orator, the strength of one's arguments which he surprisingly considered to be the least important part stating that "more often than not it is emotion, not logic that is the deciding factor in Oratory," and Julius Caesar would encapsulate this perfectly when he wrote, "People only believe what they wish to believe."

Therefore according to Cicero, the way to make them wish to believe what you want them to believe could only be achieved through one's bearing, in my opinion, this makes quite a bit of sense, being confident or nervous could make or break one's arguments, after all, if the speaker didn't believe what he was saying why should the listener? The other thing he claimed helped was one's clothing, wearing an expensive toga or nowadays a suit would lend one an air of gravitas that one did not necessarily possess, or at the very least not to the same degree.

I remembered Cicero's words just now because I realized that a case and point of exactly what not to do was sitting across from me at this very moment.

He couldn't stop fidgeting, creasing his cheap suit, adjusting his collar, running his hands on his legs as if to restore circulation, until finally, his fingers steepled themselves together in a way that may as well have screamed: "I'm nervous!"

I sighed and took a nice long sip of the Cappuccino sitting in front of me, this had already been a long morning and given my current task I had a feeling it would be an even longer day. I straightened my tie and tried to make eye-contact with the man, meanwhile, his eyes were intensely scrutinizing anything and everything that wasn't me or the sheets of paper that indicated his performance during the last quarter.

"You know full well that there's nothing I can do, not at this stage at least," I said calmly and he flinched as if physically struck.

"Please sir, I'm begging you!" He said, his hands now pressed together as if he was praying to a higher deity, his begging pissed me off more than his failure to give a cohesive argument as to why he shouldn't be fired.

"I have a family, how will I pay for my daughter's tuition or the mortgage on my-" he rambled on and the appeal to my pathos was rapidly wearing thin.

"You brought this on yourself by missing several days of work and completely ignoring our warnings to improve your performance," I interrupted coldly and with a glare that would've made Tywin Lannister proud, "logically… there's no reason to keep you in our employment, at this point you're nothing but a waste of a perfectly good salary."

"You can't just fire me, come on!" He exclaimed again, a feeble attempt and he knew it going by the fact that he was sweating buckets.

I pushed a brochure across the table that indicated the company's offered severance packages and with one final sip of my Cappuccino said: "Kindly clean out your desk."

The rest of the workday proceeded as normal, the monotony of the paperwork one had to handle when working in human resources only broken up by my lunch break, where I went to a very nice Indian restaurant and had chicken curry, average chicken curry if I was honest, but then again it's cheap and very close to the office.

Still even as I was headed home for the day that firing still plagued my thoughts for some reason. It was somewhat understandable, our Headhunters took great pains to hire the most capable people so firing someone was a rare occurrence, an occurrence I disliked due to the extra work our department had to handle, but it never weighed on my conscience before now.

I sighed heavily, something I'm doing a lot recently. And when I exhaled my breath produced a visible vapor reminding me of the fact that Christmas would be sooner than I thought and I should probably procure some gifts for my immediate family, or I could have Jean do it.

"Secretaries normally help out with that sort of thing, right?" I mulled it over while waiting for the subway to arrive, and pulled out a pack of my favorite cigars, Davidoff Gold, the brand was recently discontinued so this would be one of the last times I would have one, too bad it's wasted on such an average day.

I heard the subway arriving precisely when the schedule indicated it would, a rare occurrence in this city and unluckily for me, it arrived before I could finish my cigar. I glared at thin air as if God himself would be cowed by it, threw my lit cigar on the ground and stomped on it so I wouldn't be responsible for The Fire of New York 2: Electric Boogaloo.

I began to approach it so I could poach a seat from the rest of the commuters, but rather than stopping just short of the yellow line, beyond which it would be dangerous to approach while the train was still in motion, I felt a hard shove and tumbled towards the tracks, with an oncoming train, my brain supplied unhelpfully.

The way inertia worked my body turned around on its own so that the last thing I'd see was the distraught face of the man whom I'd fired a few hours ago. A few choice and very colorful expletives ran through my mind at the sight, but rather than voicing any of them a part of my mind that seemed to be rearing its head far too often for my liking today supplied a chipper, "Well, it looks like God was listening after all." Needless to say, I glared at the air again.

In a few seconds the glare shifted from one of malice to one of pure unashamed confusion as I beheld not the tracks and a train that suddenly stopped miraculously saving my life, or even a hospital bed or gurney with my mangled body sitting on it, because the laws of physics dictated nay, demanded that it be mangled after that.

Instead what I saw was a white hallway with odd-looking doors on either side stretching for, well, I actually couldn't say although infinity wouldn't have been a bad guess at the time.

"No injuries either…" I noted yet stranger still was that my suit was all messed up and my shirt had a few blood stains here and there, not to mention my phone, which I still had on me was completely shattered.

It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to figure out what happened considering the circumstances, but when I did, I was so shell-shocked that I involuntarily voiced the thought aloud.

"I'm dead."

"What gave it away?" A Scottish? voice said drily, and I flinched, looking around like a complete idiot to find the person who had spoken only for the hallway to contract for a lack of a better word and a desk to appear in front of me with a man sitting behind it.

The man was almost the exact opposite of what I expected god to look like, he did have a beard for what it was worth, but it was ginger, scraggly and overall decidedly un-majestic, on top of that he was rather lanky and looked like the slightest gust of wind would tip him over, not to mention he wasn't wearing flowing white robes, but rather a green suit that would've been right at home in the Dick Tracy movie. And he was leaning on a cane that had what looked like an eyeball on the top.

I blinked once and when what I was seeing didn't go away I did it three more times until I finally accepted what my brain was vehemently telling me was a reality, and taking a deep breath managed to speak, "I didn't expect to see you here of all places Lord Sheogorath."

He looked as surprised for a moment before he smiled, it wasn't a nice smile.

"You're a very polite young man ya' know? A marked difference from what I usually get here, then again I don't get anyone here..." He responded excitedly and I felt my left eye twitch at the answer that revealed no information.

His smile widened at that and he gave me a look that said if you want to know, ask.

"Where am I?" I managed to ground out and the Daedric Prince let out a hearty chuckle.

"You're somewhere, or I guess in this case nowhere would be a more fitting description." He answered with all the confidence of a sage who had found the gospel of truth and I felt the twitch recede in favor of a mild headache.

"So I am, in fact dead, then?" I stressed.

"Yup!" Sheogorath, and I still couldn't believe this was happening, nodded enthusiastically, and I felt the twitch returning with a vengeance, "You, my friend are pining for the fjords and are now in effect an ex-human."

A snort escaped my lips, "Didn't know Daedric Princes enjoyed the classics."

He shrugged easily, "We all have hobbies," when he said the last word his eyes fixed on me and for a moment, I felt like a gazelle that a wolf had just spotted.

"So that means…" I began only to be cut off.

"Why yes it does, I'm sending ye off ta jolly old Skyrim! Todd Howard will have done it again and all that." He exclaimed with a large evil grin plastered on his face

"Alright," I said with a shrug hoping that this strategy to dissuade him from sending me to fight those fire breathing hell-beasts would work.

He blinked owlishly for a moment before an expression of befuddlement exaggerated to such cartoonish proportions that I couldn't truly describe it in all of its insanity overtook his features.

"What the hell do ye mean alright?!"

I shrugged carelessly, "I mean, I'm a pretty big fan of the games, hell I recognized your appearance from Daggerfall so even if you send me there as the Dragonborn, I'd say my chances of survival are pretty good."

"Hmm…" He muttered as he rubbed his chin in thought, "I see, and I assume that you're also well versed in the lore?"

I nodded cautiously, although I have no idea what that whole Great War thing was all about, something about the Elf-Nazis rebelling because of Talos Worship…

"Great War it is then!" He said brightly as I promptly opened my mouth to curse him, his mother (Padome, or maybe Jyggalag?) and his stupid fucking eyeball-cane, or I would've had one of the doors not suddenly opened and sucked me in with all of the force of a black hole.

Morndas, Last Seed 4th Era; Outskirts of Bruma

Labienus let out a small sigh of contentment as he adjusted his spear to be able to better lean on the wall, due to the cool night air that drifted down from the nearby Jerall Mountains said sigh rapidly coalesced into a wispy smoke that slowly drifted away much like Labienus' thoughts.

"That's one of the many good things about these contracts," Labienus thought with a small smile, "they leave a man alone with his thoughts, they pay well and more often than not they're safe."

And given that the job was so simple one would think there wouldn't be much to think about, he wasn't exactly guarding some ancient treasure form a group of dastardly brigands or even a caravan with valuable merchandise traveling across goblin-infested forests. But rather the small, actually quite large, castle of a Noblewoman who had gone there to avoid giving birth in the currently plague-ridden Imperial City.

The plague wasn't something that a simple potion couldn't solve, but for babies and small children it often wasn't enough, so taking the precaution was sensible, that was the official reason at any rate.

"Having an official reason is necessary when Daedra are involved," Labienus thought with a frown while rubbing his gloved hands together to preserve his warmth.

Nonus, one of the Agrippa household guards who had accompanied Labienus and the Lady on their journey had taken him into confidence as to the real reason why they were leaving the City, apparently the Lady Agrippa had suffered a series of miscarriages that no Mages, Healers or Priests could find the cause of and her husband was displeased with her failure to birth an heir.

So, in confidence, she left for Bruma to meet with a fellow Noblewoman, who was a closet Daedra Worshipper, to pray to the said deity and prevent the fifth miscarriage. Which Daedric Prince it actually was Nonus didn't know, but Labienus himself prayed that it wasn't Molag Bal or divines forbid Mehrunes Dagon, all the gold in Summerset wouldn't be enough for me to do this job in that case…

It was while lost in his musings, that he heard the rustling of a few nearby bushes. A rookie might have been scared by this, but Labienus had been in the guild most of his life and before then he had served in the Legions with distinction so instead of being scared he was simply put on alert, he did a few quick stretches and he heard some of his joints give a satisfying pop as he slowly walked towards the sound of the disturbance in such a way that he didn't make a sound, keeping his spear at the ready all the while.

It would've been extremely difficult to see the animal let alone the tracks in the dark, but the full moon helped with that somewhat and what he saw confused him for the briefest of seconds, too big to be an animal, bipedal and not khajit

His eyes widened in alarm as he barely ducked under a blow that would've otherwise cleaved his head right from his shoulders, he pivoted on the ground with his knee using his spear to assist in his balance and lobbed a chunk of mud at the newly revealed werewolf's face.

The beast let out a howl of pure rage as it lunged at him with even more vigor than before, Labienus angled his pauldron to prevent the creature's claw from tearing into his more vulnerable gambeson and rolled away with all the speed he could muster.

He kept going with this tactic of dodging whenever he could and angling the sturdier pieces of his armor when the former proved impossible, categorically refusing to be baited into striking, since the spear would at most cripple one of the creature's limbs and leave him completely defenseless unless he stabbed it in the head and given the werewolf's supernatural reflexes that wasn't something he was confident in doing.

His tactic worked as after a few mind-numbingly terrifying minutes a shrill whistle alerted him to the fact that his scuffle had finally gotten the attention of the Household Guards, a group of which charged out with loaded crossbows and fired bolt after bolt at the beast who let out a howl of rage.

Labienus smirked for the briefest moments before letting out a blood-curdling battle cry and stabbing the beast with a strike that had all of his weight placed behind it cleaving through the creature's stomach.

The werewolf let out another how, but this time it sounded like a pained gurgle due to the blood it was forced to cough up, even still its fight or flight response has been triggered and since it was surrounded only the former would be possible.

A conclusion it must've reached as well as it brought one of its claws in a broad swipe, knocking Labienus' helmet off his head and leaving a nasty gash right below his right eye and through his forehead.

The mercenary grunted in pain, but held firm, planting the spear on the ground and assuming a stance that would make it easier to shove that son of a bitch even deeper in the werewolf's guts. The titular beats let out a shriek of pain, the last noise it would make as its throat was slashed open by Labienus' dagger.

He wrenched the spear out of its corpse waving off the guards who came to see to his health and pulled out a small glass vial filled with a red liquid, involuntarily making a face that indicated disgust he downed the foul-tasting liquid in one gulp, his wound closing up as quickly as it was inflicted.

Still panting with exertion, he reached up to pat it and while closed it still stung and his hair was filled with dried blood.

"It just had to be Hircine didn't it?" He heard Nonus mutter lowly and gave a grunt to indicate he agreed with the sentiment but focused on taking a rag from one of his many pouches to wipe said blood.

It was during this task that he heard it, a bell, but not just any bell, rather the one that belonged to the small chapel of Arkay that was built next to the house it rang once and it seemed to Labienus that all of the Agrippa men tensed, said tension disappeared by the second ring.

"A boy then seems like it wasn't in vain." A guard muttered with an accent that indicated he hailed from High Rock. Labienus would've agreed outwardly, but he was too tired for even a grunt, barely managing to trudge towards and lean on a tree so he wouldn't collapse on the cold ground.

The very first words that left my new mouth were "Fucking lunatic, Wes Johnson-ass Aiden Gillen looking inbred deranged motherfucker!", or they would've been had the words not turned into: "Googh Ga!" as soon as they left my mouth.

Shit. Ooh Shit.

I'm a baby, Sheogorath you absolute piece of shit!

I was distracted from my hatred of the Daedric Prince by the gigantic yet soft hands that picked me up, tenderly curled around me and lifted me closer to a torch. Having a baby's eyes and seemingly a baby's mind I was not very appreciative of the harsh light harassing my eyes and dull heat assailing my skin, so I did what any baby would do under the circumstances, I cried.

"A good set of lungs it seems." An excited yet somehow dry sounding voice emanated from the middle-aged dunmer woman who was carrying me, the midwife maybe?

"It would seem so Vivea." A tired yet distinctly relived female voice sounded from behind her.

The dark elf woman, now identified as Vevea set me down on a soft surface and promptly began to feel me up, presumably poking and prodding to see if I had any defects that is, not that I wouldn't be averse to the other connotation, but you know, baby.

After a few more moments of this, the woman handed me towards what I presumed to be my mother, going by the tone of her skin she was either an Imperial or Redguard whose father had been a Nord or Breton. She had brownish skin and long raven hair that cascaded down her shoulders, coupled with chestnut eyes and a sharp nose that made her look quite dignified even after the ordeal she had just presumably gone through.

"Hello Sweetheart," She cooed and rocked me gently and I figured I may as well gurgle happily, no reason to have my new guardians dislike me for being an asshole before I could even talk and all that jazz.

This whole process gave me time to organize my thoughts, the good news is I'm not a Sload or in Akavir and I have loads of time to plan my next moves.

Bad news, I don't know who I am or if I even existed in canon, the great war will presumably be in a few years and most of the time, I could use to prepare I'll be a toddler.

The possibly worse news is I could be the Dragonborn, but I have no indication of that right now and I'd rather not think about it, to be honest.

Conclusion? My chances of survival range from great to terrible and considering who brought me here I'll have to go with the latter, but I need more information before I can specify.

"What are you naming him Aurelia?" The Dunmer woman's voice jolted me back to reality, as my mother stopped rocking me and I felt her straighten slightly.

"Marcus," she said fondly, "Marcus Agrippa." Like that Agrippa, I thought with a raised eyebrow, even though I don't think I had eyebrows.

Vivea smiled fondly, but her eyes gained a mischievous glint. "And no shout-out to the woman who made it all possible, dear me I'm devastated." She said exaggeratedly.

My new mother, Aurelia glared, but there was no heat. "Fine, Marcus Vivecius Agrippa, happy?"

"Very," Vivea said drily.