Exactly what it says on the tin. Relax and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Elder Scrolls franchise. Shame, isn't it? I also don't own Worm.
FAIR WARNING: this story will get smutty later on. There will be sexual situations throughout, some of them explicit. Honestly, the Harry Potter archives has worse than what I'm planning on here. Still, all individuals are over the age of 17 unless otherwise specified; if they're underage, there will be no lewds.
"…we're small… we're so very small… i-in the end…"
I didn't hear the shot, but I felt the bullet.
I didn't feel a second, or the ground.
I was cold.
Everything was dark gray and howling, whether due to the bone-chilling wind that tore across my legs, or the throbbing pain in my skull… it was hard to tell.
The pain was fading, but the howling still persisted. I tried to move. Other than the cold, I could handle it.
If this is hell… I moved my hand. Snow crunched in my fist. The pain in my head was just about gone.
I pushed down; my palm… and my knees met something unresisting, and I lifted my body up. The back of my head hit the hood of a heavy, brown fur cloak.
At least the head wasn't a bear's head, just a normal hood. Before examining my surroundings any further, I tried to examine myself as much as I could while lying in a freezing snowdrift.
I was dressed in an off-white tunic with blue trim; a satchel hung from my left hip and something was strapped to the back of my waist – an ornate katana what.
Checking the satchel proved difficult without jostling my cloak cover too much, especially seeing as I was missing my right arm at the elbow still, so I put whatever supplies might be in the bag out of my mind. I didn't feel tired or hungry, or the need to use the necessary.
Find cover, because it was colder than I could remember my home… being...
I couldn't remember the name of where I grew up. I could remember… certain events. Names of people and places, not so much. I took a moment to examine my memories, see what made it out of the fight with… the golden man, and the bullet in my head afterwards.
The Undersiders… I remembered the name of the people I ran with, but… there was a blonde girl. Purple costume, green eyes, a smile I liked to see, and… I kissed her. But it wasn't a happy kiss. I remember respect for her, how sad she was to see what I became. Even then, she cared for me.
I remembered a school and… walking up to a locker with fear in my heart. A lot about that school was associated with fear, but a lot of my memories had frightening things in them.
A black girl hitting me; having someone (black hair, pretty, jerk) puppet her into ruining her life; she flits through golden doors and space bends to find what I need, so eager to see HIM die.
A man covered in scales, on fire and glaring at me with one eye; my hand, carving out his other eye with a knife while he lays beaten at my feet; standing beside me on a golden battlefield, saving his life from THE GOLDEN MAN.
A man with glasses, begging me to talk to him; seeing his self-hate when he hears accusations against me, and hating him for it… nothing else, except knowing that I loved him in a non-romantic way. My parent, I guessed, or my guardian.
A woman wearing a fedora, shooting me in the head, after I saved everyone but destroyed myself.
I decided to put all my past aside and, bracing myself against the… echoing screams the wind brought to my ears like a horde of ghosts, I levered myself up to a crouching position, turning my back to the wind as I did so, and surveyed my surroundings.
What little I could see of them, as I was in the middle of a near white out; the only source of light I could see came from what appeared to be a lighthouse on rocky cliff, its silhouette clear in the snow blowing steadily past my body .
Carefully, I moved the stump of my right arm and examined the scenery in that direction; icebergs and water as far as I could see. To the left… I looked up.
I was at the foot of a huge blue-white glacier, its peaks sharpened teeth in the snowy night.
Thankfully, the wind seemed to be dying down, and there didn't seem to be many cracks in the ice or boulders, so I turned my sights back on the lighthouse.
I didn't know where I was, could barely remember anything except certain tidbits and – I felt my head with my only remaining hand; the spot where I was shot wasn't soft, like it never happened – Contessa decided to dump me here for whatever reason. Likely to torture me, the bitch.
I could remember my name, of course… Khepri. It was the only name I could remember someone calling me, anyway, and the way Contessa said it, was like it came to her easily. Unless that was her fucking with me, of course; in which case, I'll have to track her down and drown her in tea. I could remember hearing she didn't care for the stuff, preferring coffee. No wonder she acted like a robot. Anyway.
I braced myself, took one more look around and, not feeling any bugs around, started trudging through the snow. At least she put boots on my feet and gave me a cloak, as the snow was wet and the storm wasn't quite over.
Climbing the ridge took nearly two hours. The whole time, I looked at the holes in my memories; I knew I was a hero of some sort, but I hadn't started out that way… or maybe I did. I certainly thought the world was broken, and wanted to fix it, but… well, quite a few people seemed to disagree a lot, or tried to kill me for some reason.
The latter usually ended up dead or in jail or at the end.
I shook my head as I became able to make out a door at the base of the lighthouse; by then, I could remember some names, though I got headaches whenever I tried to remember too hard. I remembered Grue (tall, handsome, protective), Aisha (free, annoying, sneaky), Atlas (my big bug), Amy (sad, respect, a touch to save the world), Regent (a lot of snark), and many other, less important people and things. Like Jack Slash.
Leviathan. Behemoth. Tagg. Coil. Sophia.
Not important, I decided while alternating between walking and trying not to chatter my teeth. The door was close…
And I could feel bugs inside the lighthouse. Fleas and a few ants, some flies…
Two minds looked back at me with small surprise.
They were both insects, that was clear from the feel of their bodies, six legs and exoskeletons; they were each the size of a large dog – like one of… blonde girl with the dogs, ugh, Rachel! Her, one of the dogs she had, Brutus, I thought it was – the bugs were the size of Brutus. Roughly shaped like the horrifying cross between a cockroach and an earwig, I could feel that each had some kind of spat attack that incorporated a gland under their esophagus; they also used the stuff secreted there to eat…
And I could see though their eyes somewhat; I could still see the outside of the lighthouse, but my head was starting to hurt, so I pulled my control back.
I felt them both jerk with surprise and [fear]. Wait.
…so, my powers were different. I could feel what insects felt? Or was it because they were intelligent enough to understand me?
I doubted it; they were both eating a woman when I arrived, and felt more or less like animals. They certainly felt afraid of me, though, and knew I was approaching. I wondered if this was how Rachel felt around her dogs, then put aside the thought for later. Both the insects – and there were two others below me, sifting through boxes of grain, if the feel of things was any indication – showed me a lot about my situation at a glance.
After all, if one wants to know about a place where people live, look at what's in their houses.
Either I was on the very fringes of society, in Siberia most likely, or the world I was in was operating on medieval technology.
There was a fireplace, with archaic wall hangings and torches for other light. There'd clearly been a struggle, possibly for a family if what I saw was any indication; the partially-eaten woman reminded me of… well, a lot of occasions that I wasn't in the mood to think about. She was partially eaten, but she wasn't the only corpse in the room.
On one side of the room, a waxy, eyeless creature laid in death; it looked like a reject for the Nilbog's kingdom. 'Hell, it might've felt at home actually,' I figured on seeing the batlike thing. Most important was how it died.
There was a garden hoe stuck in its temple; broken hardwood furniture was everywhere. I'd briefly seen a portrait of a family member, or more than one maybe; the creature's sight wasn't very good.
Also, the dead horse outside didn't bode well for the woman's family. Before I entered, though, I looked at the creatures again; they shivered at my touch, but I kept it light this time, just letting them know where I was, reminding them that I could stop them with a thought.
The first building I arrived at was a murder scene, but there were bugs that I could use as the beginnings of a swarm. My fine control wasn't so good while focusing on the larger bugs, but I could deal; I'd likely adapt to it over time. There was a store room below, but I got the feeling that the doors were locked; the two other bugs down there were curious and wary at the feelings of fear coming from their friends, and were on guard.
That was odd too, my ability to feel the emotions of the creatures before me, but not the ants, weevils, fleas and flies. It suggested that they were intelligent enough to understand death, and therefore pain. The pale creature seemed to have dressed itself in their chitin, as well.
I could feel something else in them, too. I felt like they were used to pain, used to being subjugated. But I felt more [hate] directed at the pale creature than anything; nothing clear, just simple hatred, though I could likely see the memory if I focused hard enough…
Contessa dropped me into a mystery right off the bat. Why?
I opened the door, getting a much-needed blast of warm air; I hurried in. It was much warmer, and the two bugs seemed more surprised and a little [awed] to see me. I shrugged off my cloak and hung it on a fixed hook. No sense standing around; I had a power to figure out, a murder to solve, a family to find… in short, I had heroing to do.
With a sigh, I tried to remember what Rachel told me about training dogs. It was there, and I had my power, so I spoke to the bug on the left, backing my words up with a mental push, "What are you?"
It was just a test. I didn't think it would work.
All four of the bugs answered at once.
My head rang like a bell as information assaulted it. Food, shelter, clothing, cattle, security, Falmer.
I shook myself and stepped closer, rubbing my head with the heel of my palm as a steady tickle of pain thrummed behind my eyes. It passed quick enough, but… I decided to figure out what Falmer were, later. No sense risking brain damage.
Basically, what these… Chaurus told me was… they were semi-sentient bugs who were raised as slaves for those waxy creatures, the Falmer; after a time, they go deeper into the ice and… the four with me didn't know what happened, but they seemed to think they'd change there. Were these actually the larvae? How big did they get? The Chaurus didn't know.
I gave the woman's corpse a wide berth and headed deeper into the ground floor of the lighthouse, only stopping to warm my hands at the fireplace; it was just four doorless 'rooms'. An entry way with two heavy doors on either side – the lighthouse peak access and the basement, I presumed – a circular living area, and two bedrooms.
The woman had a spouse, if the scattered and looted effects were any clue. A husband, by the looks of things; I couldn't read the words in her diary, so I checked my satchel. Maybe that bitch Contessa gave me a way to read their language; if she hadn't, I'd just kill her twice as hard when I found her fashion victim ass.
I noticed one of the black, green-eyed Chaurus watching me, its mandibles chittering and antennae wiggling; I could hear a whisper of emotions and ideas passing between the large bugs. It felt like... they were discussing me; it seemed like they would follow me, if I asked.
From my bag I drew a thin hardcover diary, maybe one hundred pages long with a lockable strap; the key was attached, so I opened it to the first page.
There was… a strange pattern on the first page. It looked like the abstract painting version of the written word; I couldn't think of any other way to describe it. There was a notecard taped to the inside cover.
Tinkers are bullshit.
I looked at the book I found next to the parent's bed, open to its first page.
We did it. We bought the lighthouse. I thought Habd was just making idle promises all these years; what husband doesn't want to promise their wife the two moons from the sky
I looked at the first page of my diary again. It looked like normal paper. I turned to the next page. It was a map of an unfamiliar country, outlined by a border and other borders that suggested more to the world. There was a small blue dot at the edge of the northern sea; at least there was a compass rose.
Checking my bag to see what other bullshit Contessa gave me, I found a pen and a full canteen of water.
I read the rest of the journal, which seemed to have been written by the wife. The dead woman nearby wrote of her children, Sudi and Mani, and her husband, Habd. A quick search of the children's room – broken flower vase, short novels, practice weapons, a flute, perfumes – and I found the daughter's journal, a quill dripping ink next to it.
Mani won't listen, he thinks I'm just making up the noises and keeps sneaking into the cellar! Oooh why is he so stupid some times? I don't know why he keeps going down there but I've found the cellar key he copied and hid it in Mother's favorite keepsake.
The scratching is getting loude
I found the father's journal near the woman. I asked one of the Chaurus to read it, so I could practice seeing through their eyes; their vision of anything finely detailed or not biological wasn't very good.
I read what I felt was pertinent:
Sudi keeps saying that she hears scratching coming from the cellar at night. I think she's just trying to get her mother's goat, but I'd better head into town to get a few traps just in case it's skeevers. Should only take a couple days. I just hope those two go easy on Ramati while I'm gone.
Oh Gods. Oh gods why?
I returned home to find my beautiful Ramati killed and this thing, this horrible bug-like creature ransacking our home. I managed to kill the damned thing, I think it might be a daedra!
I looked around. There was a small example on the ground nearby, dead. I walked over to the basement door; the lock was broken. I read what little was left, then stored the book in my satchel and drew the katana; the edges glowed a little, like it was on fire.
I've never seen anything like it! Oh gods poor R
I didn't know what skeevers were, but they certainly weren't Chaurus. Or Falmer.
'A hero's work is never done, it seems,' I mentally sighed; I couldn't see the bodies of the other three family members anywhere in the main house, whether with the fleas or the Chaurus. Which meant the Falmer or the other Chaurus – as it was implied there were many more below – must've kidnapped the poor people.
Hopefully, I'd find them intact, help them find the nearest town or castle or whatever, and be able to retire in perfect anonymity while some knights or something dealt with the infestation here; I'd see if I could manage to keep a few, as research into their biology and life cycle. So knights could kill them better, of course; my intentions were completely – sarcastically – honorable.
I'd had enough wars and fights for ten lifetimes. If it was possible to settle down somewhere, preferably a good distance from the lighthouse I was standing in, somewhere quiet with people and the occasional monster hunt to keep my skills fresh, I was more than happy to deal with no internet or television for the rest of my life. At least I wouldn't be bored, with an entire world to learn about and explore to my heart's content.
If they were dead… I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. I'd wasted enough time as it was. One last fight before I went looking for greener pastures.
Looking at the nearest Chaurus, which was still watching me neutrally, I gestured toward the waxy creature's corpse and told them, "I'm going to kill the Falmer, and free the other Chaurus. Will you help me?"
That seemed to excite all four of the dog-bugs, if their wiggling antennae, drooling mouths and clicking mandibles were any indication. Their eagerness to rip and tear at their waxy overlords was...
Music to my ears.