"Come on, Teldryn!" The Dragonborn urged as he lagged behind her in the ancient crypt she'd wanted to explore. It had only been recently discovered but news of it had reached the female warrior quickly thanks to her friends in Solstheim. They knew she'd be interested in old ruins like this and kept an ear out for her. Upon learning of it while in Skyrim, the woman could not help but immediately run off to the island so she could be the first to enter it.
"I'm getting too old for this," the Dark Elf scowled as he brushed off the dirt on his armor and carefully tread past several slain draugr, "I might have to decline next time you hire me. It's not good for my health."
"You knew what you were getting into, Elf," the woman teased as she ventured deeper into the ruin. Teldryn found himself grinning and followed. There was never a dull moment for mercenaries when the Dragonborn came to visit Solstheim. The liberator of the island was always traveling and exploring. She preferred company in her travels and liked to hire skilled Men and Mer as her companions.
Lucky for Teldryn, she chose him for this visit. And though he may complain, he was happy to have something interesting happen in this backwater place. It had been getting rather boring lately.
"What do you mean Teldryn is not available?" The Dragonborn scowled at the Bosmeri barmaid in front of her. She was sitting at a table in the Retching Netch. She had just finished a rather tasty meal of herbed fish and vegetables and had waved the barmaid over when she couldn't find Teldryn.
The Dark Elf was one of her favorite companions on Solstheim. She had been hoping to take him along with her to a Dwemer ruin she'd heard rumors of. It was said to be massive and could contain vast riches for those brave enough to venture inside. The Dragonborn wanted to get to it before others plundered what might lay inside.
"Teldryn was hired by another traveler last week. He won't be back for another week or two," the barmaid explained with an apologetic shrug.
"Damn," the warrior cursed aloud. She paused before speaking next, trying to remember the names of the other mercenaries that she hired less often, "well then... Where is Ragnar?"
"Left for greener pastures somewhere in Skyrim."
"Avina or Mika?"
"They quit. They actually got married... To each other. Didn't see that one coming. I thought they hated each other. Last I heard, they're trying to start a family."
"Is there anyone available to hire?" The Dragonborn sighed, letting her head drop onto the table. She'd been hoping to go to the ruin tomorrow. If she could not find a suitable companion then she would have to wait. As much as she wanted to go, it would be foolish to do it all alone. More than likely there would be numerous enemies and traps like every other Dwemer ruin she'd explored.
"Well... We do have a newbie that moved into this place last month. He's pretty good considering he can't remember anything about himself. He's a rather skilled swordsman and mage."
The Dragonborn lifted her head from the table and the barmaid took that as a sign to continue.
"A friend of mine was actually the one to find him. The poor man was rather confused and would have died out in the cold if not for her. He's only been hired by a few people so far but I've been told he did amazingly on every job."
"What is the name of this man?" The warrior asked, intrigued. An amnestic man who could only remember how to fight? He could be an interesting new friend, the woman thought to herself. Perhaps she could even help him if she hired him. Traveling around with her could jog some of his memories. If she had the opportunity, she was always willing to help others.
The name caused the Dragonborn to freeze. She looked at the barmaid in shock but the Bosmer did not notice her customer's stricken reaction.
"What?" The female warrior could only utter in response. She hadn't been expecting to hear that name again.
"His name is Miraak,'' the barmaid repeated and then continued, "it's strange though. His name seemed rather familiar when I first heard it but I couldn't recall why."
The Bosmeri woman shook her head, "I must have heard it spoken some time ago. It is an odd name but it's not the worst one out there." The barmaid giggled then, as though remembering some of the worse names she had heard.
"Where did your friend find him?" The Dragonborn spoke calmly despite her rapidly accelerating heartbeat. She could feel a pit of dread form in her stomach.
It couldn't be him... Could it?
"She found him injured near the town about half a year ago. My friend took him in and healed him but even after so long, he hasn't regained even a shred of his lost memory."
"Are you sure he doesn't remember?" The Dragonborn asked, realizing half a year ago was when she defeated Miraak. If this was her former enemy... What kind of havoc could that man cause now that he was free to roam Nirn?
"I'm pretty certain of it. The only thing the man knew was his name when he woke up. He didn't know where he was or where he came from. He didn't even know what year it was!"
"... I see," the Dragonborn murmured softly.
"Don't worry though, my friend and I can both vouch for Miraak. I know he won't let you down if you decide to hire him."
"Would I be able to meet him?" The Dragonborn then asked. The barmaid seemed continuously oblivious to the warrior's sudden tenseness and hesitance.
"Of course. Just follow me! He's in his room right now," the barmaid said excitedly and began to walk away.
The Dragonborn got up and began to follow the Bosmer. She didn't know why she was so unnerved. Whoever she met today could not be Miraak. Hermaeous Mora had made sure to kill his former Champion.
Miraak had been a powerful opponent. The female warrior felt he'd been on par with, or even more powerful, than the World Eater himself. She'd barely been able to defeat the First Dragonborn in their final battle. As much as she hated to admit it, it likely that she'd won their fight only due to Hermaeous Mora's intervention. Miraak had been a terrifying opponent with thousands of years upon her. Even now, he made an occasional visit in her nightmares along with Alduin.
"That's his room over there," the barmaid pointed at an open door. Light spilled out from the inside, "I have to get back so let me know if you need anything else."
The Dragonborn nodded and the woman hurried away to return to her customers.
It was not him, the warrior thought to herself as she hesitantly approached the door that was pointed out to her. Miraak was dead. He had been dead for over half a year. This was just a strange coincidence. Maybe someone had lost their memory and just happened to remember the name of the man that tried to enslave them all with his power. That was possible, right?
Feeling apprehensive, the woman knocked on the doorframe to announce her presence. She then stepped inside the brightly lit room.
Several large candles illuminating the entire space inside the room. Books lay scattered about, some open as if their owner stopped reading them part way through. Two bookcases were crammed full of even more books in a far corner. Near the bookcases was a desk where a dark haired man sat. He'd been focused on another old tome in front of him.
The man turned around at the sound of knocking. As he was sitting, the Dragonborn could not tell how tall he was. 'Miraak' looked to be about thirty or so with pale skin and dark, almost pitch black hair. The man looked like a Nord but also somehow different. His eyes, when the woman focused on them, seemed normal. They were a pretty shade of green. Nothing about them hinted at Hermaeus Mora's influence. Neloth had told her once that the eyes of the Daedric Prince's servants would begin to show black flecks. With how long Miraak had been serving that monster, she wouldn't be surprised if the First Dragonborn's eyes were entirely black by the time she'd met him.
"Miraak?" The woman ventured, finally relaxing a little. This could not be her former enemy. He did not look at all threatening, staring at her with open curiosity. If this was Miraak she felt she would know immediately. There was no oppressive aura emanating from the man that Miraak once exuded.
… But then the man opened his mouth and spoke.
"At your service," the man said in a chillingly familiar voice. It was the same voice that haunted her nightmares. It didn't have that odd echoing quality it once did, as he was no longer wearing that awful Dragon Priest mask, but the voice was instantly recognizable.
The Dragonborn froze again, her mind racing .
This was Miraak. He was back.
But how? Why? And what was he doing here if he was free? Could the story about his amnesia be true? The woman almost missed Miraak's next words in her shock.
"What may I do for you?"
"... I..." The Dragonborn hesitated, unsure of what to say. Her mind went blank... Perhaps a retreat was in order until she could figure out what she should do next.
"Sorry," the woman apologized stiffly, "I thought you were someone else. The barmaid said..." The warrior trailed off, her thoughts all in a jumble.
"Did you? That's a shame. Every time someone asks for me, I am hopeful they may know me. No doubt you were told of my situation?"
"Yes… I'm sorry for intruding. I'll take my leave," the Dragonborn managed to respond. She felt an intense desire to flee. Memories of her fight with Miraak rose inside her mind. But this man seemed not to recognize her. There was no anger or recognition in the man's gaze... That was good at least. If he remembered, it was unlikely Miraak would take kindly to the person that ruined his plans to free himself from his servitude.
But as the woman was about to leave, an idea sprang into her mind... She really did need someone to go to the ruin with her. And she would need to watch Miraak now that she knew he was back. Both things could be done at once... If she was willing to take the risk.
"Wait…" The Dragonborn turned back to the man. "You are a mercenary, right?"
"Yes, I admit I haven't been doing this long but I haven't disappointed an employer yet," Miraak responded with a bit of pride.
"I'd like to hire you," the woman offered. She didn't allow herself to think. There were many things that could go wrong in what she was about to do. She would just have to make sure they didn't.
"Wonderful. My rate is 500 septims a fortnight, if that is alright with you?" Miraak looked pleased. He smiled at the Dragonborn.
The woman shivered. It was an eerie thing to see such an expression when she knew this man wanted to enslave the population of Solstheim at one point.
"Yes, it is," the Last Dragonborn nodded in agreement.
This is a repost of an older work! I felt the need to rework this story a little. Plot will be the same but I wanted to add some detail. Updates for this will be rather slow though. Thanks to anyone to reads this!