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The Tale of Three Moons

Author: 
Anonymous

In a time before our people's first memory, but long after Azurah's pyre claimed the flesh of the proud lion, Lorkhaj, our great mother wept and sighed–haunted by the fate of her brother's dark heart. As she prowled the hills and valleys of her wide domain, she could not escape the pounding–the faint, but constant drumbeat from across the churning seas. Somewhere in the Great Darkness, the fell rhythm of the Moon Beast quickened and grew stronger.

Knowing that her children of many shapes would fall to the Moon Beast's profanity, she purred across the stars, coaxing the lanterns of Jone and Jode to make way for a sky-guardian. This third moon and shield of the Lattice shone its light down upon Azurah's litter of purest heart and most fervent obedience. She called these cats the Litter of the Hidden Moon, and taught them the lunar byways, and secrets of the merciful blade. From that time on, they loved her as no other Khajiit could love her, and in that love, found sympathy for all cats bent by the beating of the Heart.

Beloved adepts, take these words into your heart and know that we keep Azurah's commandments still. For we are all children of the Hidden Moon. 

The Nords' Totemic Religion

Author: 
Michael Kirkbride
The gods are cyclical, just like the world is. There are the Dead Gods, who fought and died to bring about the new cycle; the Hearth Gods, who watch over the present cycle; the Testing Gods, who threaten the Hearth and thus are watched; and the Twilight Gods, who usher in the next cycle. The end of a cycle is said to be preceded by the Dragonborn God, a god that did not exist in the previous cycle but whose presence means that the current one is almost over.
 
The Dead Gods
Dead Gods don’t need temples. They have the biggest one of all, Svongarde. Nord heroes and clever men visit the Underworld all the time. They bear a symbol to show that they have, which garners much respect.

 

  • The Fox - Shor
  • The Bear - Tsun
 
The Hearth Gods
The Hearth Gods have temples appropriate to their nature: Kyne’s are built on peaks, Mara’s are the halls of important Witches, Dibella’s are the halls of important Wives– the temples aren’t like those of the Imperials; as Hearth Gods, they are always homes to someone, and the highest-ranking female of that home is their de facto high priestess.
 
  • The Hawk, Kyne
  • The Wolf, Mara
  • The Moth, Dibella
 
The Testing Gods
The Testing Gods don’t really have temples – they are propitiated at battlegrounds or other sites where they caused some notable trouble. Nords understand that the Daedric Temples are something else entirely and think them as much of a waste of time as the formalized religion of the Nine Divines of Cyrodiil.
 
  • The Snake, Orkey
  • The Woodland Man, Herma Mora
 
The Twilight Gods
The Twilight Gods need no temples– when they show up, there won’t be any reason to build them, much less use them – another waste of time. That said, Nords do venerate them, as they always venerate the cycles of things, and especially the Last War where they will show their final, best worth.
 
  • The Dragon, Alduin - Alduin is venerated on the winter solstice by ceremonies at ancient Dragon Cult temples, where offerings are made to keep him asleep for one more year. Alduin is also the source of many common superstitious practices before any event of significance.
  • The Dragonborn God, Talos - Talos’ totem is the newest, but is everywhere – he is the Dragonborn Conquering Son, the first new god of this cycle, whose power is consequently unknown, so the Nords bless nearly everything with his totem, since he might very well be the god of it now, too. Yes, as first of the Twilight Gods, this practice might seem contradictory, but that’s only because, of all the gods, he will be the one that survives in whole into the next cycle.
 
Nord view of Imperial Religion
The Eight Divines are viewed by the Nords as a “Southern” import. They retain some of the taint of the Alessian Order, and are basically viewed as a religion for foreigners. Their gods are fine for them, but Nords need Nord gods.
 
Some of the gods are the same (or similar) – significantly these are the three female gods, which are far more important to the Nords than they are in the Imperial Cult. (Kyne is in fact the de facto head of the Nord pantheon.) The Nords are perplexed and disturbed by the Imperial Cult’s focus on the Dragon God – they regard this as a fundamental misunderstanding of the universe, and one likely to cause disaster in the end. (Which fits perfectly with the pessimistic Nord view of the world in general – things are likely to turn out badly, and it will probably be caused by some foreigner.) Lucky for the world that the Nords are so diligent about keeping Alduin asleep, while the southerners are busy trying to get his attention! Any mention of Akatosh in a Nord’s presence is likely to bring a muttered invocation to Alduin to stay asleep in response.
The Nords believe that, During the Oblivion Crisis, it was Talos (Dragonborn, Martin’s forefather) lending his aid, not Alduin.

Shezarr and the Divines

Author: 
Faustillus Junius

Shezarr and the Divines

by
Faustillus Junius
Subcurator of Ancient Theology and Paleonumerology
Imperial Library

 

The position Shezarr enjoys in Cyrodilic worship if often misconstrued. He, and a thousand other deities, have sizeable cults in the Imperial City. Shezarr is especially venerated in the Colovian West, though he is called Shor there, as the West Kings are resolutely, and religiously, Nordic.

The haziness of Shezarr's relationship to the Divines (he is often called their 'Missing Sibling') begins with St. Alessia, the so-called 'Slave Queen of Cyrodiil, the founder figure of the original Cyrodilic Empire. In the earliest Cyro-Nordic stories of the Heartland, Shezarr fought against the Ayleids (the 'Heartland Highelves') on mankind's behalf. Then, for some unknown reason, he vanishes from the stage (presumably to help other humans elsewhere), and, without his leadership, the Ayleids conquer the humans and enslave them.

This slavery lasts for generations. The isolated humans eventually begin to venerate the pantheon of their masters, or at least assimilate so much of High Elven religious practices into their native traditions that the two become indistinguishable.

In 1E242, under the leadership of Alessia, her demigod lover, Morihaus-Breath-of-Kyne, and the infamous Pelinal Whitestrake, the Cyrodilic humans revolt. When Skyrim lends its armies to the Slave-Queen of the South, the revolution succeeds. The Ayleid Hegemonies are quickly overthrown. Shortly thereafter, White Gold Tower is captured by Alessia's forces, and she promptly declares herself the first Empress of Cyrodiil. Part of the package meant that she had to become the High Priestess of Akatosh, as well.

Akatosh was an Aldmeri god, and Alessia's subjects were as-yet unwilling to renounce their worship of the Elven pantheon. She found herself in a very sensitive political situation. She needed to keep the Nords as her allies, but they were (at that time) fiercely opposed to any adoration of Elven deities. On the other hand, she could not force her subjects to revert back to the Nordic pantheon, for fear of another revolution. Therefore, concessions were made and Empress Alessia instituted a new religion: the Eight Divines, an elegant, well-researched synthesis of both pantheons, Nordic and Aldmeri.

Shezarr, as a result, had to change. He could no longer be the bloodthirsty anti-Aldmer warlord of old. He could not disappear altogether either, or the Nords would have withdrawn their support of her rule. In the end, he had become "the spirit behind all human undertaking." Even though this was merely a thinly-disguised, watered-down version of Shor, it was good enough for the Nords.

As for why Tiber Septim has not attempted to 'revitalize' Shezarr during his wars against the Aldmeri Dominion, we can only speculate that, at this time, memories of the Alessian Order's follies (the Dragon Break, the War of Righteousness, the defeat at Gelnumbria Moors) would only damage his campaign for the Imperial Crown.

 

Sithis

Author: 
Anonymous

Sithis is the start of the house. Before him was nothing, but the foolish Altmer have names for and revere this nothing. That is because they are lazy slaves. Indeed, from the Sermons, 'stasis asks merely for itself, which is nothing.'

Sithis sundered the nothing and mutated the parts, fashioning from them a myriad of possibilities. These ideas ebbed and flowed and faded away and this is how it should have been.

One idea, however, became jealous and did not want to die; like the stasis, he wanted to last. This was the demon Anui-El, who made friends, and they called themselves the Aedra. They enslaved everything that Sithis had made and created realms of everlasting imperfection. Thus are the Aedra the false gods, that is, illusion.

So Sithis begat Lorkhan and sent him to destroy the universe. Lorkhan! Unstable mutant!

Lorkhan had found the Aedric weakness. While each rebel was, by their nature, immeasurable, they were, through jealously and vanity, also separate from each other. They were also unwilling to go back to the nothing of before. So while they ruled their false dominions, Lorkhan filled the void with a myriad of new ideas. These ideas were legion. Soon it seemed that Lorkhan had a dominion of his own, with slaves and everlasting imperfections, and he seemed, for all the world, like an Aedra. Thus did he present himself as such to the demon Anui-El and the Eight Givers: as a friend.

Go unto the Sharmat Dagoth Ur as a friend.

AE HERMA MORA ALTADOON PADHOME LKHAN AE AI.

Five Songs of King Wulfharth

Author: 
Anonymous

 

Shor's Tongue

The first song of King Wulfharth is ancient, circa 1E500. After the defeat of the Alessian army at Glenumbria Moors, where King Hoag Merkiller was slain, Wulfharth of Atmora was elected by the Pact of Chieftains. His thu'um was so powerful that he could not verbally swear into the office, and scribes were used to draw up his oaths. Immediately thereafter the scribes wrote down the first new law of his reign: a fiery reinstatement of the traditional Nordic pantheon. The Edicts were outlawed, their priests put to the stake, and their halls set ablaze. The shadow of King Borgas had ended for a span. For his zealotry, King Wulfharth was called Shor's Tongue, and Ysmir, Dragon of the North.

Kyne's Son

The second song of King Wulfharth glorifies his deeds in the eyes of the Old Gods. He fights the eastern Orcs and shouts their chief into Hell. He rebuilds the 418th step of High Hrothgar, which had been damaged by a dragon. When he swallowed a thundercloud to keep his army from catching cold, the Nords called him the Breath of Kyne.

Old Knocker

The third song of King Wulfharth tells of his death. Orkey, an enemy god, had always tried to ruin the Nords, even in Atmora where he stole their years away. Seeing the strength of King Wulfharth, Orkey summoned the ghost of Alduin Time-Eater again. Nearly every Nord was eaten down to six years old. Boy Wulfharth pleaded to Shor, the dead Chieftain of the Gods, to help his people. Shor's own ghost then fought the Time-Eater on the spirit plane, as he did at the beginning of time, and he won, and Orkey's folk, the Orcs, were ruined. As Boy Wulfharth watched the battle in the sky he learned a new thu'um, What Happens When You Shake the Dragon Just So. He used this new magic to change his people back to normal. In his haste to save so many, though, he shook too many years out on himself. He grew older than the Greybeards, and died. The flames of his pyre were said to have reached the hearth of Kyne itself.

The Ash King

The fourth song of King Wulfharth tells of his rebirth. The Dwarves and Devils of the eastern kingdoms had started to fight again, and the Nords hoped they might reclaim their ancient holdings there because of it. They planned an attack, but then gave up, knowing that they had no strong King to lead them. Then in walked the Devil of Dagoth, who swore he came in peace. Moreover, he told the Nords a wondrous thing: he knew where the Heart of Shor was! Long ago the Chief of the Gods had been killed by Elven giants, and they ripped out Shor's Heart and used it as a standard to strike fear into the Nords. This worked until Ysgramor Shouted Some Sense and the Nords fought back again. Knowing that they were going to lose eventually, the Elven giants hid the Heart of Shor so that the Nords might never have their God back. But here was the Devil of Dagoth with good news! The Dwarves and Devils of the eastern kingdom had his Heart, and this was the reason for their recent unrest. The Nords asked the Devil of Dagoth why he might betray his countrymer so, and he said that the Devils have betrayed each other since the beginning of time, and this was so, and so the Nords believed him. The Tongues sung Shor's ghost into the world again. Shor gathered an army as he did of old, and then he sucked in the long-strewn ashes of King Wulfharth and remade him, for he needed a good general. But the Devil of Dagoth petitioned to be that general, too, and he pointed out his role as the blessed harbinger of this holy war. So Shor had two generals, the Ash King and the Devil of Dagoth, and he marched on the eastern kingdoms with all the sons of Skyrim.

Red Mountain

The fifth song of King Wulfharth is sad. The survivors of the disaster came back under a red sky. That year is called Sun's Death. The Devil of Dagoth had tricked the Nords, for the Heart of Shor was not in the eastern kingdoms, and had never been there at all. As soon as Shor's army had got to Red Mountain, all the Devils and Dwarves fell upon them. Their sorcerers lifted the mountain and threw it onto Shor, trapping him underneath Red Mountain until the end of time. They slaughtered the sons of Skyrim, but not before King Wulfharth killed King Dumalacath the Dwarf-Orc, and doomed his people. Then Vehk the Devil blasted the Ash King into Hell and it was over. Later, Kyne lifted the ashes of the ashes of Ysmir into the sky, saving him from Hell and showing her sons the color of blood when it is brought by betrayal. And the Nords will never trust another Devil again.
 

 

The Secret Song of
Wulfharth Ash-King

The Truth at Red Mountain

The Heart of Shor was in Resdayn, as Dagoth-Ur had promised. As Shor's army approached the westernmost bank of the Inner Sea, they stared across at Red Mountain, where the Dwemeri armies had gathered. News from the scouts reported that the Chimeri forces had just left Narsis, and that they were taking their time joining their cousins against the Nords. Dagoth-Ur said that the Tribunal had betrayed their King's trust, that they sent Dagoth-Ur to Lorkhan (for that is what they called Shor in Resdayn) so that the god might wreak vengeance on the Dwarves for their hubris; that Nerevar's peace with the Dwemer would be the ruin of the Velothi way. This was the reason for the slow muster, Dagoth-Ur said.

The Armies Grow

And Lorkhan (for that is what they called Shor in Resdayn) said: "I do not wreak vengeance on the Dwarves for the reasons that the Tribunal might believe I do. Nevertheless, it is true that they will die by my hand, and any whoever should side with them. This Nerevar is the son of Boethiah, one of the strongest Padomaics. He is a hero to his people despite his Tribunal, and he shall muster enough that this battle will be harder going still. We will need more than what we have." And so Dagoth-Ur, who wanted the Dwarves as dead as the Tribunal did, went to Kogoran and summoned his House chap'thil, his nix-hounds, his wizards, archers, his stolen men of brass. And the Ash King, Wulfharth, hoary Ysmir, went and made peace with the Orcs in spite of his Nordic blood, and they brought many warriors but no wizards at all. Many Nords could not bring themselves to ally with their traditional enemies, even in the face of Red Mountain. They were close to desertion. Then Wulfharth said: "Don't you see where you really are? Don't you know who Shor really is? Don't you know what this war is?" And they looked from the King to the God to the Devils and Orcs, and some knew, really knew, and they are the ones that stayed.

The Doom Drum

Nerevar carried Keening, a dagger made of the sound of the shadow of the moons. His champions were Dumac Dwarfking, who carried a hammer of divine mass, and Alandro Sul, who was the immortal son of Azura and wore the Wraith Mail. They met Lorkhan at the last battle of Red Mountain. Lorkhan had his Heart again, but he had long been from it, and he needed time. Wulfharth met Sul but could not strike him, and he fell from grievous wounds, but not before shouting Sul blind. Dagoth-Ur met Dumac and slew him, but not before Sunder struck his lord's Heart. Nerevar turned away from Lorkhan and struck down Dagoth-Ur in rage, but he took a mortal wound from Lorkhan in turn. But Nerevar feigned the death that was coming early and so struck Lorkhan with surprise on his side. The Heart had been made solid by Sunder's tuning blow and Keening could now cut it out. And it was cut out and Lorkhan was defeated and the whole ordeal was thought over.

Words of Clan Mother Ahnissi to her Favored Daughter

Author: 
Anonymous

Ahnissi tells you. You are no longer a mewing kitten and you have learned to keep secrets from Ahnissi, and so Ahnissi tells you.

In the beginning there were two littermates, Ahnurr and Fadomai. After many phases, Fadomai said to Ahnurr, "Let us wed and make children to share our happiness."

And they gave birth to Alkosh, the First Cat. And Ahnurr said, "Alkosh, we give you Time, for what is as fast or as slow as a cat?"

And they gave birth to Khenarthi, the Winds. "Khenarthi, to you we give the sky, for what can fly higher than the wind?"

And they gave birth to Magrus, the Cat's Eye. "Magrus, to you we give the sun, for what is brighter than the eye of a cat?"

And they gave birth to Mara, the Mother Cat. "Mara, you are love, for what is more loving than a mother?"

And they gave birth to S'rendarr, the Runt. "S'rendarr, we give you mercy, for how does a runt survive, except by mercy?"

And many phases passed and Ahnurr and Fadomai were happy.

And Ahnurr said, "We should have more children to share our happiness." And Fadomai agreed. And she gave birth to Hermorah. And she gave birth to Hircine. And she gave birth to Merrunz and Mafala and Sangiin and Sheggorath and many others.

And Fadomai said:

 "Hermorah, you are the Tides, for who can say whether the moons predict the tides or the tides predict the moons?"

"Hircine, you are the Hungry Cat, for what hunts better than a cat with an empty belly?"

"Merrunz, you are the Ja'Khajiit, for what is more destructive than an kitten?"

"Mafala, you are the Clan Mother, for what is more secretive than the ways of the Clan Mothers?"

"Sangiin, you are the Blood Cat, for who can control the urges of blood?"

"Sheggorath, you are the Skooma Cat, for what is crazier than a cat on skooma?"

And Ahnurr said, "Two litters is enough, for too many children will steal our happiness."

But Khenarthi went to Fadomai and said, "Fadomai-mother, Khenarthi grows lonely so high above the world where not even my brother Alkosh can fly." Fadomai took pity on her and tricked Ahnurr to make her pregnant again.

And Fadomai gave birth to the Moons and their Motions. And she gave birth to Nirni, the majestic sands and lush forests. And she gave birth to Azurah, the dusk and the dawn.

And from the beginning, Nirni and Azurah fought for their mother's favor.

Ahnurr caught Fadomai while she was still birthing, and he was angry. Ahnurr struck Fadomai and she fled to birth the last of her litter far away in the Great Darkness. Fadomai's children heard what had happened, and they all came to be with her and protect her from Ahnurr's anger.

And Fadomai gave birth to Lorkhaj, the last of her litter, in the Great Darkness. And the Heart of Lorkhaj was filled with the Great Darkness. And when he was born, the Great Darkness knew its name and it was Namiira.

And Fadomai knew her time was near. Fadomai said:

"Ja-Kha'jay, to you Fadomai gives the Lattice, for what is steadier than the phases of the moons? Your eternal motions will protect us from Ahnurr's anger." And the moons left to take their place in the heavens. And Ahnurr growled and shook the Great Darkness, but he could not cross the Lattice.

And Fadomai said:

"Nirni, to you Fadomai leaves her greatest gift. You will give birth to many people as Fadomai gave birth today." When Nirni saw that Azurah had nothing, Nirni left smiling.

And all Fadomai's children left except Azurah. And Fadomai said, "To you, my favored daughter, Fadomai leaves her greatest gift. To you Fadomai leaves her secrets." And Fadomai told her favored daughter three things.

And Fadomai said, "When Nirni is filled with her children, take one of them and change them. Make the fastest, cleverest, most beautiful people, and call them Khajiit."

And Fadomai said, "The Khajiit must be the best climbers, for if Masser and Secunda fail, they must climb Khenarthi's breath to set the moons back in their courses."

And Fadomai said, "The Khajiit must be the best deceivers, for they must always hide their nature from the children of Ahnurr."

And Fadomai said, "The Khajiit must be the best survivors, for Nirni will be jealous, and she will make the sands harsh and the forests unforgiving, and the Khajiit will always be hungry and at war with Nirni."

And with these words, Fadomai died.

After many phases, Nirni came to Lorkhaj and said, "Lorkhaj, Fadomai told me to give birth to many children, but there is no place for them."

And Lorkhaj said, "Lorkhaj makes a place for children and Lorkhaj puts you there so you can give birth." But the Heart of Lorkhaj was filled with the Great Darkness, and Lorkhaj tricked his siblings so that they were forced into this new place with Nirni. And many of Fadomai's children escaped and became the stars. And many of Fadomai's children died to make Nirni's path stable. And the survivors stayed and punished Lorkhaj.
 
The children of Fadomai tore out the Heart of Lorkhaj and hid it deep within Nirni. And they said, "We curse you, noisy Lorkhaj, to walk Nirni for many phases."

But Nirni soon forgave Lorkhaj for Nirni could make children. And she filled herself with children, but cried because her favorite children, the forest people, did not know their shape.

And Azurah came to her and said, "Poor Nirni, stop your tears. Azurah makes for you a gift of a new people." Nirni stopped weeping, and Azurah spoke the First Secret to the Moons and they parted and let Azurah pass. And Azurah took some forest people who were torn between man and beast, and she placed them in the best deserts and forests on Nirni. And Azurah in her wisdom made them of many shapes, one for every purpose. And Azurah named them Khajiit and told them her Second Secret and taught them the value of secrets. And Azurah bound the new Khajiit to the Lunar Lattice, as is proper for Nirni's secret defenders. Then Azurah spoke the Third Secret, and the Moons shone down on the marshes and their light became sugar.

But Y'ffer heard the First Secret and snuck in behind Azurah. And Y'ffer could not appreciate secrets, and he told Nirni of Azurah's trick. So Nirni made the deserts hot and the sands biting. And Nirni made the forests wet and filled with poisons. And Nirni thanked Y'ffer and let him change the forest people also. And Y'ffer did not have Azurah's subtle wisdom, so Y'ffer made the forest people Elves always and never beasts.  And Y'ffer named them Bosmer. And from that moment they were no longer in the same litter as the Khajiit.

And because Y'ffer had no appreciation for secrets, he shouted the First Secret across all the heavens with his last breath so that all of Fadomai's children could cross the Lattice. But Azurah, in her wisdom, closed the ears of angry Ahnurr and noisy Lorkhaj so they alone did not hear the word.

The Lunar Lorkhan

Author: 
Fal Droon

I will not go into the varying accounts of what happened at Adamantine Tower, nor will I relate the War of Manifest Metaphors that rendered those stories unable to support most qualities of what is commonly known as "narrative." We all have our favorite Lorkhan story and our favorite Lorkhan motivation for the creation of Nirn and our favorite story of what happened to His Heart. But the Theory of the Lunar Lorkhan is of special note.

In short, the Moons were and are the two halves of Lorkhan's 'flesh-divinity'. Like the rest of the Gods, Lorkhan was a plane(t) that participated in the Great Construction... except where the Eight lent portions of their heavenly bodies to create the mortal plane(t), Lorkhan's was cracked asunder and his divine spark fell to Nirn as a shooting star "to impregnate it with the measure of its existence and a reasonable amount of selfishness."

Masser and Secunda therefore are the personifications of the dichotomy-- the "Cloven Duality," according to Artaeum-- that Lorkhan legends often rail against: ideas of the anima/animus, good/evil, being/nothingness, the poetry of the body, throat, and moan/silence-as-the- abortive, and so on -- set in the night sky as Lorkhan's constant reminder to his mortal issue of their duty.

Followers of this theory hold that all other "Heart Stories" are mythical degradations of the true origin of the moons (and it needn't be said that they observe the "hollow crescent theory" as well).

Spirit of Nirn

Author: 
Anonymous

Lorkhan is the Spirit of Nirn, the god of all mortals. This does not mean that all mortals necessarily like him or even know him. Most elves hate him, thinking creation as the act which sundered them from the spirit realm. Most humans rever him, or aspects of him as the herald of existence. The creation of the Mortal Plane, the Mundus, Nirn, is a source of mental anguish to all living things; all souls know deep down they came originally from somewhere else, that Nirn is a cruel and crusial step to what comes next. What is this next? Some which to return to the original state, the spirit realm, and that Lorkhan is the Demon that hinders their way; to them Nirn is a prison, and illustion of escape. Others think that Lorkahn created the world as the testing ground for transcendence; to them the spirit realm was alreayd a prison, that true escape is now finally possible. 

Shor son of Shor

Author: 
Michael Kirkbride

"And the awful fighting ended again.

"Kyne's shout brought our tribe back to the mountaintop of Hrothgar, and even our recent dead rode in on the wind of her breathing, for there had been no time to fashion a proper retreat. Their corpses fell among us as we landed and we looked on them in confusion, shaken as we were by this latest battle in the war of twilight. The chieftains of the other tribes still held their grudge against our own, Shor son of Shor; more, they had united finally to destroy us and used skin-magic to trick us into disarray.

"Shor was disgusted with the defeat, and disgusted more when reminded by Jhunal that our withdrawal had been wise, for we were outnumbered eight to one. Shor took on the form of his Totem then, which he used to better shape his displeasure, rather than to shout it aloud and risk more storm-death. His shield thanes, the brothers Stuhn and Tsun, bowed their heads, collecting the spears and swords and wine-knives Shor threw about the broken pillars of the easternmost sky-temple. The rest of us looked away and to our own, not even to acknowledge the thunderclap that signaled our Queen's arrival, who stepped in from the tunnel of her own breath last.

"Kyne had taken the head of Magnar, the jarl that betrayed the weakness of our spear-lines and fled the field. Shor shook his scaled mane. "That isn't Magnar," he said, "Magnar, I fear, fell at sunrise and became replaced by mirrors. The other chieftains are using our forms to lead us astray."

"And then Shor walked away from his War-Wife to enter the cave that led to the Underworld. He needed to take counsel with his father yet again. "Our chieftain loses heart," Dibella said, Bed-Wife of Shor, hefting another body onto the corpse pile some of us were making, "And so goes to the speak to one that has none anymore. Mirrors, indeed, and in that I see no logic."

"Tsun took her by the hair, for he was angered by her words and heavy with lust. He was a berserker despite his high station, and love followed battle to his kind. "You weren't made for that kind of thinking," Stuhn said, dragging Dibella towards a whaleskin tent, "Jhunal was. And no one should be speaking to him now." Tsun eyed the Clever Man who had heard him. "Logic is dangerous in these days, in this place. To live in Skyrim is to change your mind ten times a day lest it freeze to death. And we can have none of that now."

"Kyne could have stopped all of this but did nothing but stare at the crowd of Nords around her. Stuhn and Tsun were shifting and it was still uncouth to prevent this kind of neighboring. She looked on Jhunal and did not know if he should be spoken to or not. Rules were changing. Even her handmaiden was gone, and that lack of attendance was a transgression, but Kyne knew Mara was no doubt making treaties with one of the other chieftains, and the Pact still allowed for Tear-Wives to do that. After her husband Shor had forgotten to kiss her, a tradition among the War-Married when they returned from the field together, Kyne kept her storms to herself and knew there would be no true understanding until the twilight was lifted.

"Shor breathed the lamplights of the Underworld to life with small whispers of fire. The dark did not frighten him-- he had been born in a cave much like this-- but nevertheless it added to the mounting disgust in his spirit. Ever since the Moot at the House of We, where the chieftains of the other tribes had accused him of trespass and cattle-theft and foul-mouthery, he knew it would come to a war we could not win. Any of those words were enough for the treason-mark, and traitors were only met with banishment, disfigurement, or half-death. He had taken the first with pride, roaring a chieftain's gobletman into dust to underscore his willingness to leave, knowing we would follow. He had taken the second by drawing a circle on the House's adamantine floor with his tailmouth-tusk which broke with a keening sound, showing the other chieftains that it would all come around again. And he took the third by vomiting his own heart into the circle like a hammerclap, guarding his wraith in the manner of his father and roaring at the other tribes, "Again we fight for our petty placements in this House, in the Around Us, and all it will amount to is a helix of ghosts like mine now spit into the world below where we fight again! I can already feel the war below us starting, and yet you have not yet thrown your first spears even here!" We took our leave of the House and would never reconvene again in this age.

"The Moot looked to the tribe of Ald son of Ald but he would break no oath of the Pact, saying "Shor has paid ransom now three times for the the sins we accused him of, and by that we will hold him as dead and shake not our spears against him or his kin. Of the below he speaks, he is confused by it, for under us is only a prologue, and under that still is only a scribe that hasn't written anything yet. Shor as always forgets the above, and condemns himself and any other who would believe him into this cycle." Ald's shield thane Trinimac shook his head at this, for he was akin to Tsun and did not care much for logic-talk as much as he did only for his own standing. He told his chieftain that these words had been said before and Ald only sighed and said, "Yes, and always they will be ignored. As for the war you crave, bold Trinimac, and all of you assembled, do not worry. A spear will be thrown into this soon, from Shor's own tribe, and the House of We will be allowed our vengeance."

"Shor found the alcove at the core of the world and spoke to his dead father. He said a prayer to remove any trickery of mirrors and the ghost of Shor father of Shor appeared, saying "Ald and the others have paid time and again for the the sins we accused them of, and by that you should hold them as dead and shake not the spears of your tribe against any of their kind again. Of the above he speaks, Ald is confused by it, for above us is only an ending, and above that still is only a scribe that hasn't written anything yet. Ald as always forgets the ground below him, and condemns himself and any other who would believe him into this cycle." But Shor shook his head at this, for he was akin to Ald and did not care much for logic-talk as much as he did only for his own standing. He told his father that these words had been said before and Shor only sighed and said, "Yes, and always they will be ignored. As for the counsel you crave, bold son, and in spite of all your other fathers here with me, that you create every time you spit out your doom, do not worry. You have again beat the drum of war, and perhaps this time you will win." Shor son of Shor returned then to us on the mountaintop.

"He didn't need to explain what he had learned, for we had been there with him. Trinimac left Dibella in his tent as we assembled, and he had not touched her, frozen in the manner of the Nords when we are unsure of our true place, and asked his brother to rearm him. Stuhn was confused for a moment, thinking this an odd shift, but Mara was returned and had made great headway into treaty with the other tribes, telling him that such Totems here in the twilight could now be trusted. Our Queen merely nodded to her War-Husband and shouted us back to the fields of our enemies, towards a weakened spot among their spear-lines that Magnar our scout would light for us.

"And the awful fighting began again."

Shor, son of Shor

Author: 
Michael Kirkbride

[BEGIN FRAGMENT]

"And the awful fighting ended again.

"Kyne's shout brought our tribe back to the mountaintop of Hrothgar, and even our recent dead rode in on the wind of her breathing, for there had been no time to fashion a proper retreat. Their corpses fell among us as we landed and we looked on them in confusion, shaken as we were by this latest battle in the [untranslateable]. The chieftains of the other tribes still held their grudge against our own, Shor son of Shor; more, they had united finally to destroy us and used skin-magic to trick us into disarray.

"Shor was disgusted with the defeat, and disgusted more when reminded by Jhunal that our withdrawal had been wise, for we were outnumbered eight to one. Shor took on the form of the [untranslateable] then, which he used to better shape his displeasure, rather than to shout it aloud and risk more storm-death. His shield thanes, the brothers Stuhn and Tsun, bowed their heads, collecting the spears and swords and wine-knives Shor threw about the broken pillars of the easternmost sky-temple. The rest of us looked away and to our own, not even to acknowledge the thunderclap that signaled our Queen's arrival, who stepped in from the tunnel of her own breath last.

"Kyne had taken the head of Magnar, the jarl that betrayed the weakness of our spear-lines and fled the field. Shor shook his scaled mane. "That isn't Magnar," he said, "Magnar, I fear, fell at sunrise and became replaced by mirrors. The other chieftains are using our forms to lead us astray."

"And then Shor walked away from his War-Wife to enter the cave that led to the [untranslateable]. He needed to take counsel with his father yet again. "Our chieftain loses heart," Dibella said, Bed-Wife of Shor, hefting another body onto the corpse pile some of us were making, "And so goes to the speak to one that has none anymore. Mirrors, indeed, and in that I see no logic."

"Tsun took her by the hair, for he was angered by her words and heavy with lust. He was a berserker despite his high station, and beauty followed battle to his kind. "You weren't made for that kind of thinking," Stuhn said, dragging Dibella towards a whaleskin tent, "Jhunal was. And no one should be speaking to him now." Tsun eyed the Clever Man who had heard him. "Logic is dangerous in these days, in this place. To live in Skyrim is to change your mind ten times a day lest it freeze to death. And we can have none of that now."

"Kyne could have stopped all of this but did nothing but stare at the crowd of Nords around her. Stuhn and Tsun were shifting and it was still uncouth to prevent this kind of neighboring. She looked on Jhunal and did not know if he should be spoken to or not. Rules were changing. Even her handmaiden was gone, and that lack of attendance was a transgression, but Kyne knew Mara was no doubt making treaties with one of the other chieftains, and the Pact still allowed for Tear-Wives to do that. After her husband Shor had forgotten to kiss her, a tradition among the War-Married when they returned from the field together, Kyne kept her storms to herself and knew there was no true understanding until the [untranslateable] was lifted."

[END FRAGMENT]